By: Adam Tortelli ~Staff Writer~
First-year basketball players of the Big East Conference gathered together in New York City this past weekend for the first ever “Freshman Fundamentals.”
Representing Xavier was freshman forward Kaiser Gates, this year’s lone recruit in contrast to the slew of first-year additions that arrived at Xavier in August 2014. The two-day workshop allowed for the conference rookies to learn about the transition as a basketball player from high school to college, and eventually college to professional.
“Freshman Fundamentals” came to fruition as an initiative by Stu Jackson, senior associate commissioner of men’s basketball, and commissioner Val Ackerman. Jackson, a former coach and executive in the NBA, has previous work in this type of program as one of the catalysts that started a similar program to transition rookies into the NBA.
“Historically, schools in our conference did a great job of making all freshmen from all sports aware of issues like gambling, sexual harassment, academic integrity,” Jackson said in an interview with the Big East Digital Network.
“No one has taken the opportunity to talk to men’s basketball players about issues they will face as they come into an elite basketball conference or what they can expect beyond their collegiate careers,” Jackson said, “We felt it was our responsibility.”
While all schools within the conference tend to their entire freshmen class of student-athletes in various fashions, this event sought to particularly address playing in the national spotlight of an elite program such as the Big East.
This is the first time for any conference to put together an event to specifically transition a freshmen class of any singular sport. Participants had an intense 48 hours hearing from panels of former NBA players as well as running through simulations of how to deal with off-the-court issues and pressures.
In addition to the rigorous learning that took place, sightseeing of the big apple was also squeezed in with a trip to the 9/11 memorial as well as a tour of Madison Square Garden, the site of the Big East Tournament.