Hands-on director a guide for hoops hopefuls

[attach]7374[/attach]Jason Sealy may have to mind 18 basketball rep teams and more than 900 members, but he is still hands-on and will head onto the court to prove a point.

As the technical director of the North Toronto Basketball Association, Sealy wants to take an athlete-centered approach to player development, incorporating a competitive basketball environment with a supportive approach to individual athletes.

Helping out with the under-18 girls team practice at George Brown College on a cold Saturday night, Sealy is going one-on-one with Connie Harris, a 6-foot-2 centre, to demonstrate some offensive techniques.

Sealy is overlooking 18 rep teams as they prepare for Ontario Basketball Association league play in January, and lends a helping hand with Harris, putting her to task. Standing widely to keep Harris from toppling over him as she posts him up, Sealy is stern but warm, with a smile on his face.

“You want to seal out the defender when making your move,” advised Sealy, noting the importance of footwork and body position.

Entering his second full season as technical director, Sealy wants to build on the NTBA’s success, where the under-10 and -12 girls teams won gold medals, and several boys squads made the podium.

Sealy is a competitor. The medals are not enough. He wants to top them.

“I always think I could do more,” Sealy said, post-practice.

Sealy has been able to break ground with the club, launching coaching clinics — the first in the club’s 23-year history — and providing more leadership retreats for the players.

A life-long St. Clair Avenue West resident and George Brown’s sport and recreation coordinator, Sealy wants a thriving local basketball culture in midtown. He takes pride in being able to use basketball to develop young minds on a local scale.

“From a basketball standpoint, if you love the game you’ll love to travel, but it’s always nice when it’s close to home,” Sealy

Sealy says he wants to hone the basketball instincts of his players, to play the kind of basketball that goes beyond a drawn-up play, to teach them to make better decisions on their own.

“In basketball, things always break down on the court,” Sealy commented. “As soon as someone beats someone on the dribble — boom! — whatever offense you’re running is finished.

“We have to actually play. We have to understand spacing, how to think, when to take a shot. Those are things I focus on.”

Harris, who is aspiring to play basketball at the collegiate level, says she appreciates the hands-on approach Sealy would take.

“He encourages me, but he keeps pushing me,” Harris said. “When he uses a more aggressive tone with me, that’s when I really start to treat it like a game-like situation.

“That makes me push myself even more.”

Regardless of the successes, Sealy says he hopes his approach is shaping the discipline and character of his players, and that they can use those skills in other ways in other places.

“Our primary concern is not winning and losing,” he said. “Our concern is not my ego as a coach.

“It’s about serving the athlete.”