The Willingness to Learn

<B>TEANECK, NJ - </B>Watching the workouts at the Reebok ABCD Camp proved that the potential Arizona recruits take well to coaching. While the coaches aren't only selecting players who are coachable, it is nice to see that most, if not all of the Wildcats' recruits at the camp were among the most teachable players.

Last season the Wildcats had players that were not as coachable as in years past. One of the biggest problems the Cats had was that there were players on the team who did not take to all of the coaching staffs' teachings.

Because of that it was encouraging to see that the Wildcat recruits I saw in New Jersey were all very teachable and had great attitudes. After a year where players attitudes differed and led to conflict, it was nice seeing potential Wildcats interacting so well with the camp's coaches.

During the Friday morning workouts many of Arizona's potential recruits including Marques Johnson, Richard Semrau, Davon Jefferson, and D'Andre Bell, took well to their coaching. All of these players worked with some NBA assistants as well as former North Carolina coach Matt Doherty.

Doherty was working with the players on playing zone defense as well as how to work against it offensively. Jefferson started out at this drill. He overshadowed many other players with his incredible speed and hustle defensively, but he also took well to the coaching. Too often players give the coaches a courtesy nod, then continue to do the same things they were doing.

Some of the other drills included the pick and roll as well as the fast break. While all of those players interested in Arizona hustled and played hard, they all took well to instruction and paid attention at all times. This willingness to learn and ability to pay attention was clear. A few of the other players seemed glazed over and looked as if they were ignoring the advice of the coaches. Granted, these players were in the minority, but there were enough of these players to make the more attentive ones noticeable.

The player that impressed me most was Semrau. After Semrau's poor showing Thursday, he made up for it by working extra hard in the morning workouts. He appeared to realize that there is room for improvement in his game, and he worked towards those improvements. His talent is obvious and as he competes against better players you can bet he will get more consistency.

The coaches really seemed to really push Semrau harder than others. It was obvious they can see the talent and know that he would take to the extra attention. In drills they defended him extremely hard in order to push him offensively. Semrau played much better in the workouts than he did the prior day's games. He was quicker, more decisive and his moves to the basket were much sharper.

In addition, even the players who did play well in games also tried to improve their game. When I spoke with Bell he mentioned that "He knows he hadn't put together his best game yet." This is clearly the type of player Arizona usually recruits. Arizona players have had a history of always wanting to get better, and the players at ABCD are no different.

When the Arizona coaches take a look at these players, they look beyond their stats and on-court showings. They look for talent, potential and a willingness to improve. Coaches do not want to recruit a kid who is not willing to learn. Therefore, it makes sense that the potential recruits show that willingness.

All of the players have the skills necessary to play at Arizona, and those Arizona is interested in are very coachable, and are the best of the best. While these players take well to the individual coaching, they also pay attention to the entire session. It is clear that Arizona is only interested in kids they can teach.

This may sound obvious, but the Wildcats need players who can stand critical instruction. Lute Olson is not the easiest person to play for. He demands a lot and lets his players know it. The Wildcats had trouble with this last season, and won't make that mistake again. They need players who want to work, will take criticism and do what is asked.

The players I saw at ABCD fit this mold. They are talented, yet willing to learn. They exhibit confidence, but don't have an ego that is so big that they can't handle criticism.

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