Basketball Coaching: The Importance of Mentorship

Kevin Sutton Mentor.jpg
This is the 1st article submitted from Coach Justin “JB” Brandt from Philadelphia, PA. Coach JB is a Radford University grad where he helped them to their 2nd NCAA tournament appearance. He has coached at every level including pro basketball with the New Zealand Breakers and worked with athletes from around the globe at IMG Academy.

One of the best pieces of advice I can give any person is to find a mentor. Notice I did NOT say student, athlete, or aspiring coach. This bit of advice should be applied by everyone, both young and old, experienced and novice.

SEEK OUT MENTORSHIP! We do a fantastic job of telling our youth that they should go to college, find a trade, or join the military. However, what we tend to fail to suggest, is to find someone who has experience in our desired field or holds a position in which we hold in high regard.

As the great Andre “3000” Benjamin once said, “They say selling is a sin. Well so is telling young men that selling is a sin, if you don’t offer new ways to win.”

The fact is that knowledge in itself is NOT power. The application of knowledge is power, and if we do not seek out opportunities to apply the knowledge we acquire, we are then wasting precious prospective moments to grow and reach our highest potential. A simple way to apply your knowledge while growing more, is seeking out mentorship and always asking how you can help. Yes, the idea behind mentorship is for you to learn, grow and gain some real-world application of knowledge. Conversely, being selfish and always taking from your mentor will only help you lose the trust of your mentor quickly. Remember, relationships are a two-way street. It’s not about what you know, nor is it about who you know, but it’s about who knows you and thinks highly of you, OR, even best, who thinks of you when they are in a time of need.

Anytime you can help lighten your mentor’s workload, you are doing a great deal of good in your personal development. Consider the following…

  • Your mentor asks you to cut some film for them. While this may seem like a long painstaking process, you have the opportunity to watch the game, take any kind of notes on the current objective (offense, defense, player development) and learn the process behind cutting film if you’ve never done it before. Not to mention, if you mess up or haven’t done it correctly, your mentor will offer advice as opposed to you drastically getting something wrong for your boss.
  • Your mentor asks you to run the NBA (youngest age group) section of camp. Again, this may seem like a long painstaking process, BUT THIS IS A COMPLIMENT! Anyone and everyone can coach or work with people who excel at their job. But it takes someone special to do the little things that others do not care to do. In addition, working with people who do not already have a refined skillset allows you to learn how to teach them the smaller nuances of the craft and how to make it enjoyable!

These will be critical moments for your personal and professional growth. Remember, be the person that people think of when they are in a time of need. This past week I reached out to my mentor by sharing with them a motivational quote and journal prompt that I use for the classes that I teach.

Emphasis of the Day: “Timing, perseverance, and 10 years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” – Biz Stone (co-founder of Twitter)

Journal Prompt: How did the person you look up to get to where they are today?

Like clockwork my mentor responds with a solid gold nugget.


This is the quint essential example of how the mentor/protege relationship works. The protege shares information with the mentor that they believe the mentor might enjoy, and the mentor responds with a critical thought provoking response that has a direct correlation to progressing in their chosen career, in this case, as a coach.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that education is vital and that you will not get far in this world without some type of a degree. However, please be reminiscent of the adage, “knowledge is not power, it’s the application of knowledge that is power.” If you attain higher education but do not apply it in your daily life or throughout your career, how can you expect to reach your highest potential? Likewise, if you do attain that higher level of education but then get complacent, you will be surpassed by those individuals who continue to grow/learn and do a tremendous disservice to those whom you coach, teach or mentor.

I would like to end this by saying thank you to my mentor, Coach Kevin Sutton. Coach Sutton has continually helped me throughout my career despite what is going on in his. There has never been a time where I have not been able to count on him responding to my phone calls, e-mails or text messages. I hope that one day I will be able to leave as great of a positive impact on another person’s career/life as he has mine.

The team at Dr. Dish Basketball would like to thank Coach Justin Brandt for sharing his insight and we look forward to sharing more articles from him that will bring value to our audience. 

You can follow more of Justin's work at and follow him on social media: Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

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