08/03/2015 3:51 PM
Former UT-Dallas basketball player James Emmers, loves the game of basketball.
He’s been around sports his entire life. When the opportunity to develop young basketball talent came up, Emmers couldn’t pass it up.
Jeff Webster and Emmers helped organize Nike Pro Skills and Emmers emerged as the head coach for Pro Skills third grade team.
Webster was with the Texas Titans and coached guys like Julius Randle, Mickey Mitchell and Tyler Davis.
“It is a good org from top to bottom,” Emmers said. “Our older kids are on the Nike EYBL circuit and for the younger kids to look up to them is a good look.”
Emmers grew up in Houston and got a good experience playing basketball in college.
“The goal was to win it all in at the PrimeTime Nationals but the philosophy is to grow and get better,” Emmers said. “I have to help them build that foundation right now. Setting the foundation now will bring motivation for next time and we can see how we can get better.”
Pro Skills third grade team played up in fourth grade leagues all season.
“The tournaments prepared us for this and playing against older kids getting pushed around a little bit,” Emmers said. “That core group of kids been together since kindergarten and some played since then so the group been together for a while. We are trying to keep the team together. Also there are good parents that help me and they trust me with their kids.”
Pro Skills finished third, losing to eventual champions Gulf Coast Blue Chips.
“They came out with more energy than we did but our team showed fight and grit,” Emmers said. “We fought to the end and it was another learning experience. Momentum comes from the beginning.”
This team shows great effort and within the team, there is good individual play.
“Not one player is bigger than the team,” Emmers said. “The score represents the team and not the players’ individual play. We try to make it about your brother.”
Pro Skills is based in North Dallas, pulling from Frisco, Plano and Garland.
“I don’t focus what everyone else is doing,” Emmers said. “I only focus on what we are doing about our boys. We feel that we play the right way with our third grade group. We stay out of the drama because it is all about the kids. I focus on only my kids and what I am trying to do with them.”
Defensively they like to run a full court press as well as a diamond 1-2-2 three quarter court press.
“We will run flash out of the zone and overload which are our mains sets,” Emmers said.
“AAU/grassroots brings unity and brings kids together,” Emmers said. “We can possibly be lifelong friends and teaching these kids that it is not about all about themselves is key. It can translate to being at school or being at school.”
The short term goal for Pro Skills is just to take about a couple weeks off and get skill work done to become a better individual player. The long term goal is to get back to the nationals and win.
“I think we were prepared to win it all,” Emmers said. “We just added a kid at the end of the season. Due to that, we still gelled well and it wasn’t a drop off. We still had good chemistry and he played the last two tournaments with us. That was our first tournament on that kind of stage. We weren’t used to the crowds like local tournaments.”
Staying calm during adversity is what Pro Skills staff is working on.
“Knowing the difference between yelling and calling a timeout staying calm is the first step,” Emmers said. “The kids respond and sometimes you have to remind them what is at stake."