Academy courts top basketball mentor

By Sam Debenham (The Western Advocate)

THE Western Region Academy of Sport secured a coup over the weekend as renowned basketball mentor Ganon Baker came to Bathurst to help ‘coach the coaches’ and impart some of his considerable knowledge.

A number of basketball mentors from across the region were subject to plenty of training from Baker, who has plied his trade with some of the world’s greatest players including NBA stars LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter.

A former high school, college and professional player, Baker has been in the coaching game for the last decade and has become one of the foremost tutors in the sport in America.

Since meeting WRAS director Brett Coxsedge eight years ago, he has been a regular visitor to Australia and jumped at the chance to make an appearance in Bathurst.

“I train kids from as young as 10 right up to NBA and WNBA level, through clinics, DVDs, coaching certificate classes and motivational talks,” Baker explained. “After playing in high school, college and as a pro, I went back and coached at college for five years as an assistant and I’ve been doing this for about 10 years now.

“The thing about coaching is that the same lessons I give to someone like LeBron James, who is at the top of the sport, are often exactly the same as the lessons a hockey coach might teach his players.”

Baker went on to explain that the only thing that separates some of the world’s greatest players and coaches from the people who he was instructing in Bathurst is the personalities and motivations of his students.

“The lessons don’t change, only the talent level and the personality,” he said.

“The importance of success changes too, for a LeBron James basketball is their job and their livelihood, so their motivation is different to a 12-year-old who just loves playing the sport but it doesn’t mean everything to him if he wins or loses.”

In the time Baker has been coaching, Australia’s presence in the basketball world has grown and he sees a positive future for the sport in this country given the potential available.

(Photo by Zenio Lapka)

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