Klair Merrell Interview: ‘NW Lady Tigers State Bound’

Photo credit: Mike Wise Photography

JC: Klair!!! Oh my goodness, what an amazing season you young ladies at Northwestern are having. State, wow!!! I can only imagine how excited you must be feeling.

JC: Klair, first and foremost thank you for taking the time to talk with me, I really do appreciate it… I remember when we did our training back in May of last year, there was an excitement and a buzz in the air about how good the Northwestern girls basketball team was going to be. And it was the truth!! Everything you ladies were expected to be has become a reality, congratulations!

JC: Can you tell me, what has been your role and contribution to this team?

KM: “Thank you for taking the time to interview me. My main role on the team this year has been defense. Our team really works well together and does a great job at shutting down our opponents.”

Photo credit: Mike Wise Photography

JC: High school hoops is not easy, at any level. As for the mental aspect of the game, there is certainly a learning curve. As a sophomore, how do you feel about the fact that your able to contribute to a team of this calibur so early in your career?

KM: “I feel very blessed to be a part of this team. We have all put in a lot time and hard work in the off season to make it to this point. My dad always says that anyone can try but those that try harder win and our coaches really push us to do that.”

JC: When we were training, I believe it was volleyball practices you’d just be finishing up with — and it was an all day thing. I thought, man, she is a dedicated young lady to jump right into a shooting workout. Before school even started your focus was basketball. Do you have a passion for basketball? Is it your dedication to the game that gives you an edge?

KM: “Yes, I have a passion for basketball. I love how it has taught us to work as a team to achieve a common goal. We are all very dedicated to the game.”

Photo credit: Mike Wise Photgraphy

JC: Klair, I think… Forgive me I don’t think, I know, as a student of mine you have as natural a feel for shooting the basketball as anyone I’ve ever worked with. At times it seemed effortless for you. Have you found that any of the things we’ve worked on together transferred to your game time shooting? What lesson from our time together stands out the most in your mind?

KM: “My lessons with you helped me to realize that no matter how much experience you have there is always room to improve your shot and make it better.”

Photo credit: Mike Wise Photography

JC: It is such a cool thing to see you succeeding as a Northwestern Lady Tiger. If it was ever a dream for you at all to play high school basketball and make it to the state finals, that dream has come to fruition for you. Express to me what you are feeling at this very moment?

KM: “At this very moment I’m feeling very excited and blessed that God gave me this opportunity to play with such a great team. I can’t wait for next weekend! Thank you so much!”

Photo credit: Mike Wise Photography

JC: No, thank you!!! My goal was to gain perspective on your journey playing hoops this year, and to hear your thoughts and feelings. And I believe that was accomplished… Once again, congrats to you and your teammates on a wonderful season, and I can’t wait to see you competing for the state championship next weekend!! Go Lady Tigers!!!

***Special thank you to Mike Wise Photography for being gracious enough to allow me to use his photos. Excellent work my friend!!!

Trajan Deckard Interview

In late January I got to sit down with Trajan Deckard, star shooting guard of Kokomo Wildkats basketball. I wanted to pick his brain, and get a little insight into why he’s been so successful this basketball season. From his scoring, team leadership and maturity, Trajan has taken his game to a new level. He also has a message for young and upcoming future Wildkats.

JC: Trajan man, you are scoring the ball so well right now. I’m proud of you and the success I see you are having individually. I’ve seen so much maturity in your game. To what do you credit most of your success as a far as your ability to score the basketball? And how much does your team play a roll in that?

TD: “I credit the time and dedication I put in the gym over the off-season. My teammates are playing a big roll in my scoring because they are looking for me, feeding me the ball when I’m getting open. I’ve become more confident in my shooting and can now show what I’m capable of.”

JC: Your ability to get to the basket and finish is incredible, but also your jump shooting has proven to be a major threat. You remind me of a young Dominic James, having that dual threat. What would you say.. Is it that getting to the basket helps your outside game more, or is it your outside shooting increases your ability to get to the basket easier?

TD: “My outside shooting helps me get to the basket easier. As teams scout they say “shooter”, but when I can dominate the arch and then the next few possessions pump fake, I can make one move to the rim with a finish.”

JC: Personally, I’ve truly enjoyed the times we’ve spent together training. Being able to offer you and others what I know about shooting the basketball has been a dream come true for me, and to see a student that I’ve worked with be so successful is wonderful. What have you taken from our time together and how do you apply it on the court?

TD: “Yes, the time we’ve spent getting better was tremendous. The key to my jump shot you told me was keeping my elbow in and aligned with the basketball. That’s helped me a lot and what has boosted my free throw percentage.”

JC: Now in your senior year, performing the way you have, you are definitely putting yourself on the radar. How do you remain humble and focused? How do you maintain the concept of team first while having so much individual success?

TD: “Being a senior I understand that I have to be a great leader and keep the young guys focused. Playing the way I am I know that I have to be patient and play at a higher level with more intensity than any other player on the court. I know that I am the key to my team and have to keep everyone on the same page.”

JC: I had to leave early from the Logansport game with my son, he was just so ready to get out of there lol. But, I listened to the rest of the game on the radio and man you showed out with 22 pts in the second half. I thought, wow!!!

JC: With averaging right around 18.7ppg this season, you’ve posted these numbers in great fashion. Season highs being: 32, 25, 24, 23. Not only are you active in the points category, but I’ve been impressed with your rebounding, with 3 to 4 rebounds a game. The other night against Logan, you didnt force anything, you let the game come to you and you did what you had to do to help your team win. That to me spells out, unselfish.. What’s truly the most important thing you, the team winning or personal accolades?

TD: “First half of the Logansport game I didn’t shoot much I looked more for my teammates getting shots because they pressured me well. When I had the ball in my hands I felt as if it was a smart move for me to do that, because second half they focused more on Anthony which gave me the chance to get open and attack the basket. Logansport normally has a good team so I knew that being patient and controlling the ball would keep us alive even when it hurt us as a team that I wasn’t getting shots up. Team winning always comes first to me. Being on top is always a great feeling even if I didn’t have the greatest game I could’ve played. I hold my head high because that means the young guys and other seniors stepped up and were prepared to battle. Being the teams leading scorer is good but you also have to know that being a team player there’s some games when it’s not about being the leading scorer. You’ll have to help your team get the victory by getting others open and playing hard on both ends of the court.”

JC: Trajan, its been such a pleasure man. I’m proud of you.. I’m watching you.. I’m a fan.. And my prayers are with you as you continue to grow and mature as a person and a basketball player. I’m so looking forward to seeing what the future holds for you my man. Thank you for this opportunity!!

TD: “I appreciate the kindness and willingness for you coming to me for this interview. This a special moment that will live forever and I’m blessed to have the opportunity to give back information on my season. Hopefully the up and coming Wildkats in the future will read this and learn that it’s a tough game and takes hard work and dedication to play at the next level. Thank you for your time!! Take care.”

Keeping It Real


You know. You’d really be hard pressed to find a trainer more blessed than I am with the clientele I’ve worked with over the past year and a half. I say that from the perspective of – it’s been expressed, and shown to me, that my students and their parents have an extreme level of trust in me. And in a world where it’s easy nowadays to be skeptical of pretty much everything and everyone, I’m thankful they believe in me the way they do. I will not let them down!


Basketball is a great love of mine, has been since I was a kid. I’ve made this game a priority in my life for such a long time. I’ve turned it into a business and a major part of my livelihood. With respect to that, honesty has in every aspect of what I do been first and foremost. So, I’m going to give it to you straight because that’s what you deserve.



I’ve had several students here recently, with the start of the new basketball season tell me that their basketball coach wishes to change their form; and that they are uncomfortable with it. Parent and student both have communicated to me, they believe in the process and the principles involved in my form – and have seen results they like. No fault of the coaches who are just doing what they think is best, and I say this with the utmost respect to all who are coaching the youth, there are not many coaches who specialize in shooting the basketball the way that I do. In many instances because they have not studied shooting the ball in depth the way that I have – they harm the process and don’t help the cause in attempts to change a kid’s shot. It’s an extremely tough situation especially for the kid – who has received training and been shown a certain way to do things and now all of a sudden it must be changed. I’m not going to lie – that bothers me!


Having said all that, at the end of the day, that kid plays for a coach who holds in the palm of he or she’s hand their playing time. Parents, because ultimately you have the greatest influence over the decision making of your child and their mentality at this stage in their lives; you must help your child understand and weigh the importance of these two questions. Do I listen to my coach? Or, do I listen to my trainer?


Students of mine both current and of the past, I, as your trainer, hold the keys to a quality jump shot. I have the ability to teach you how to make an impact on the game when the opportunity presents itself; but, the coach gives you that opportunity to display that skill. Parents, once again, I urge you to help give your child some perspective and encourage them to listen to their coach. “JC, this is your business why would you say that?” Well, because that’s truly what is best for the kid, to be given a chance to play and enjoy the game. Do not though, take on the mindset that it is pointless to come and see trainers like myself who are teaching special skills within the game. As kids grow and move forward playing basketball, having the knowledge, being equipped with valuable tools such as a quality jump shot, will benefit them greatly.



Personally, I would love the opportunity to help relieve some of the pressures on a kid when they encounter situations like the one I just described above. How can I help them adjust to the situation? How can we find a way to stick to the form, principles and foundation of a quality jump shot while also pleasing the coach? I am here for you! If you are not already booked with me and have questions you may need answers to concerning basketball, please feel free to email me at jcleebarnett@gmail.com.


Role-ing Into The New Season

Young hoopers!! I know you’ve been working your tails off all off season to better yourself. And now, the season is here!!! Tryouts have started and already happened for many of you to begin a brand new basketball season. What an exciting time! As you begin your season I wish for you to walk into it with a fresh new perspective.


Selflessness.. . We all know and recognize basketball as a team sport. But, there are five individuals out on the basketball floor who all have a role to play. Ideally, everyone comes together collectively to impact the team for a greater cause than for self – I know though, how easy it is to get caught up in making that role about you, instead of the team.


Understand that as insignificant as you feel your role may be right now, you have a purpose. You matter; just as much as the leading scorer, the leading assist man, or the leading rebounder. Your attitude, your hustle, your encouragement to others means just as much as any other role. Ultimately, when everyone does their job – everyone wins. So play your role with pride, and perform with some dignity.


Have a great season everyone!!!

Sincerely, Charlie


It’s usually the case that the best of the best in their craft make it to a Hall of Fame of some sort. Those individuals possess an intangible quality about them that set them apart from everyone. In the case of Charlie Hall, he couldn’t have a more fitting last name because the ‘Hall is exactly where he deserves to be; the Indiana basketball Hall of Famer is at home in the enshrinement of the greatest players, coaches and minds the state of Indiana has ever seen. Charlie is a bit before my time, but I’d heard the stories of how Charlie “the Snake” Hall could really play. As a coach, I witnessed the magic of his ’02-’03 Lady Kats basketball team as they made their undefeated run to a state title. There is an indisputable value Charlie brings to everything that he touches, that’s been evident in his time as director of Indiana All Stars. I’m pretty sure I know the reason why – he’s blessed me and touched my life with his remarkable character.


Hall with his girls after winning state championship in 2003.


It’s been 14 years since I’ve graduated from Kokomo. Often I think about when I was in high school and the wonderful time I had while I was there. Every year of school I had a weights class first thing in the morning. At the time, Kokomo’s facility was probably one of the nicest high school weight rooms in the state of Indiana. At the very center of that room was a small table, and at that table sat Mike Wade and Charlie Hall my weights instructors. Mike Wade I credit and forever indebted to for giving a little guy a chance; for believing in me enough to start me at shooting guard in competitive high school basketball, getting the chance to compete against some of the greatest competition in the state. Across from him sat Mr. Hall. In the many interactions I had with Charlie over the course of my time at Kokomo, he was such a pleasant man to talk to. What was most striking about him was that he always gave me the sensation of being full. From the age of 18 to now, it’s taken me this long to fully understand why it was I felt that way. When he and I would speak, he was always saying something that revealed something about me. A special quality that I possessed, something that he saw in me – that I could do, or noticed something that I didn’t think anybody could see in me. To anyone, especially a young man, that does so much for their self-esteem – not only that, it has great influence on that person’s next move or step in life. A single moment can leave a lifelong, lasting impression.



I’ll never forget – my senior year it was a Friday morning in weights class, and it was basketball season. When class was over and we were making our way down the steps to the locker room, a good friend of mine was asking me about the game coming that night. We were playing Richmond in Richmond, and facing a tough ball player in Dominic James. Up to that point I had seen no one as impressive or explosive as Dominic. Standing at 5’10”, the guy could literally jump up and look down into the basket. That night he went for 37 points against us and caught an alley-oop dunk with his elbows at the rim. In a losing effort we took that game into double overtime and lost on a buzzer beater 3 point shot. In the middle of telling my friend about how incredible James was, a voice from behind me says, “he doesn’t have anything on JC though!” When I heard it I looked back to find Mr. Hall standing there; so I smiled thinking he was just joking around, but he was genuine in what he said. Those are the kinds of things that set Charlie apart from everyone else to me; I received from him a regular dose of encouragement whether he realized he was doing that for me or not. I knew that I didn’t hold a candle to James, but that night against Richmond I had 12 points on 4 three pointers, and two of those shots were a huge reason we were able to battle and stay alive in overtime. Those words instantly gave me the feeling that I could do anything – and that night I made special moments and many other big moments throughout the season.


Indiana All-Star Devin Davis of Warren Central High School poses with game director Charlie Hall after receiving the series Most Valuable Player Award against Kentucky on Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. (Photo by Gannon Burgett for The News-Sentinel)


When my time came to an end at Kokomo, Charlie your kind and inspiring words did not stop there. In a final send off to me you wrote me a very special letter that I still look at to this day. And so because I just have such a high regard for you, I wanted you to know what I thought of you. Thank you sir


Very special letter of recommendation Charlie wrote for me my senior year.


(You can find a small bit of the Richmond game footage in the tribute video to Ricky “Minnesota” Cardwell starting at the 3:43 mark.)

LB Holds the Keys


By now, Lawrence “LB” Burnett should be a name everyone knows in the world of basketball in Kokomo. I’ve learned and taken away so much from him in the past year. For myself, working my way into the player development field – I couldn’t have asked for a better example than him. Lawrence is from Chicago, Illinois – a land foreign to Kokomo natives in the sense that our styles of basketball are very different. I’ve lived in Kokomo all 32 years of my life, and played hoops about 25 of those years. There have been tough ball players produced here; too many to name individually, but in my opinion the culture of basketball overall in the area has always been a bit passive. And that is not necessarily a bad thing – we produce jump shooters, it just comes with the territory. But since the day I met LB, he’s been on a mission not to change – but add to the culture we have here in mid-central Indiana.


LB (left) and assistant coach Stacey Pollard listening in on coach Matt Moore’s gameplan during a timeout.


In my observance of him I notice that our styles of teaching are different – that’s the reason I believe I’ve always admired his methods. LB is tough man!! And his ability to transfer that toughness into his players is incredible. You can’t buy toughness, sit up on your mantle and claim to have it – it is totally and completely a mentality, a way of life. The way in which he builds that mentality up in kids is quite unique, and effective. With him, you will be respectful, you will listen, and you will perform. After taking careful consideration of the order in which he demands these things, I realize that a kid performs simply because he has taken the time to listen; a kid will listen because he has learned a respect for authority; and respect is taught while they are young and impressionable. In a deeper evaluation of that philosophy it is actually love, that produces these results. LB through his faith, love and passion for connecting with young people is truly a good man. By everyone that I’ve seen interact with him on a regular basis, he has made a great impact on their lives and earned their respect.



LB has produced and helped along many talented ball players that have a “go get it mentality. The fruits of those gentlemen’s labor are seen in the signing of overseas contracts, and some who have even made their way to the NBA. “Go and get it”, as much as it is about pure desire to be successful by one’s own will, it’s also about the mechanics. The most valuable lesson I’ve learned from LB, is his teaching of counter moves. Out on the basketball court the environment and landscape is changing constantly. He prepares his players to the maximum, how to react to those changes and attack the basket. I especially love to incorporate this mindset into shooting the basketball, because there is nothing more rewarding to me than figuring out a way to rise up into my jump shot in reaction to what a defender has given me. Much of what I teach, more so for the older students is the art of deception, element of surprise, creating space and believe it or not closing down the space. Being a smaller guard, you have to find little ways outside of your athletic ability alone to create an opening to take your jump shot. LB’s emphases on making multiple moves work to your advantage – work! One is never going to just have a clear path to anything, even in life. Learn to create your own way!!


LB (middle) with two of his young guys..


If you’ve not yet made it a point to meet LB, please do this coming basketball season. There are very few people who know what it takes to get to the next level the way he does, and will actually give you the keys to making it happen. Take full advantage of having a man like that right here in Kokomo.

Giant Man, Giant Voice

As a Kokomo, Indiana kid just learning the game of basketball in the 90’s, the Carver Community Center was the hub of all basketball activity in the area at that time – at least in my eyes. I can still remember the smell of gym shoes, concession stand food, feeling the gentle breezes flowing through the open doors on hot summer days, and the aroma of a freshly waxed basketball court. I can even remember the very first time I’d seen the Michael Jordan painting on the east side gym wall, all lit up with lights that changed color around it. As significant an impact the senses of sight and smell have on the fondest of my early stage basketball memories – I’d have to say my sense of hearing is what I’m most thankful for in this instance. I’ll never forget the first time I heard the biggest voice this side of Heaven!


In the summer months, when you’d enter the front doors of the Carver Center for basketball camp, this great big voice that I described was already going. When you’re a kid 6’4” seems like a giant – who am I kidding, to me that’s still a giant; Phil “PC” Cox was that giant to me. I say this knowing full well that, “We Love This Game!!” was not created by coach Cox it was created by the NBA, but as far as I’m concerned that will forever be his trademark. For so many years I watched him with that chant, lead hundreds of kids in breaking it down at the end of the day at Carver basketball camp. I as well as so many others I’m sure, can still hear that echoing in our minds.


Speaking of an echo, Phil has a voice that can shake the rafters of Kokomo’s Memorial Gym. I’ve heard Phil rock the house singing the National Anthem countless times, in front of thousands of people. I’ve heard him singing beautiful songs in praises to the Lord on Sunday mornings, as I made my way to Sunday school class at Mt. Pisgah when I was small. He has used that “giant voice” of his for so much good in his life. For those of you who have read along with me as I’ve written about my journey in basketball, you know how often I express how thankful I am for how basketball has giving me the opportunity to meet extraordinary people. Phil Cox is absolutely one of those special people. His passion for investing in young people through basketball, gave me the chance to be close to him.  Because of him I learned a lot at a young age on a level not many get the chance to witness. In 1972 Phil Cox was Indiana’s Mr. Basketball, fresh off a state championship at Connersville High school – and for those of us fortunate enough to be able to play for him, we had access to a perspective on the game that was quite unique.


A young and multi-talented Phil Cox on the cover of a magazine with a microphone in one hand and basketball in the other.


The passionate Phil Cox pumping his fist in excitement.


Over the years I experienced a ton of basketball with my ol’ coach, traveled a long way. AAU tournaments, Middle school basketball where I competed against his teams, and then eventually high school basketball – one thing always remained constant and that was Phil’s passion and desire for teaching. Boy, if it took you several times to get something right he’d sure let you know about it – and at the very top of his lungs. But when you got it right that very first time, his smile, his reassurance and celebration of you did wonders for building up your confidence. I’ve always appreciated his passion for the game, even more so his compassion for people and even more than that for being so down to earth – all while being basketball royalty in the great “basketball state”. I know that has more to do with the Man Who lives within him – if you’ve ever met Phil the love of Jesus is all over him.


Cox with former Wildkat standout Alan Arnett.


I’m so thankful for knowing Phil Cox the man. The time he took to spend and invest in us kids means more to me than he will ever know. It was not all about basketball with him – great life lessons have been gained from knowing him, lasting relationships were made through him, entire families came together all for one purpose. As a grown man, I understand now that all those years he chose to be a part of something bigger than himself, he made the decision to fill us up with his knowledge and wisdom of the game – and of life because he loved us. And with that in mind, I know how detrimental that can be to a man’s family. From all different angles but especially emotionally and financially, it can take a real toll on a relationship. So as much as I am thankful for Phillip Cox, I am even more so for his wife Darlene. Darlene, thank you for being such a strong woman and sticking by him all these years while he builds up young men like myself. It takes such a selfless woman who often goes unseen and unnoticed, to keep a strong man standing – otherwise he would surely fall.


Phil and his lovely wife Darlene.

Towe, Small Stature – Giant Heart

It’s such a great thrill to me, when I learn of something I’ve been totally oblivious to for so long – and it was right under my nose the whole time. Come on my people, momma – you’re a high school basketball historian!! Monte Towe, why did nobody inform me of the incredible man?!!


My beautiful mother..


As you would expect, being from Kokomo and watching high school basketball teams from the North Central Conference roll in and out of Memorial Gym, I’d known of Kojak Fuller; standing at 5’7” he is one of the greatest small guards Indiana has ever seen out of Anderson High school. With the recognition he received, how could I not know of Kojak, his extraordinary ability and performances earned him Indiana’s Mr. Basketball in 1993. Being right around 8 years old when he graduated, I was plenty old enough to be a basketball fanatic by that point. Fuller known for his prolific scoring ability was expected to do great things, even having immense promise for the NBA. But well, the Lord had other plans for Kojak – and he is living life for God impacting the lives of young people wherever he goes through the game of basketball.


Kojak Fuller looking to make a pass.
Fuller interacting with a young man.


How could this one slip by me though? It took a lady I work with in Fairmount mentioning who he was, for me to hear his name for the first time – ever. Monte is from Converse, Indiana and attended Oak Hill High school and graduated in 1971, he’s a “Golden Eagle”. When the lady I worked with pulled him up on the internet, I was amazed by what I saw probably more because he’s just so close to where I’m from, and I had no idea. A contributing factor that could have played a role in me hearing very little about Monte, is the fact that he’s older. He was born in Marion, Indiana in 1953, that’s one year ahead of my beautiful mother, (who is not ashamed of her age btw lol) and if you’ve ever seen her, doesn’t look near the age of 63. Anyway, Towe also standing only 5’7” was such an excellent high school basketball player he was given the opportunity to play at North Carolina State for Norm Sloan. He played college ball for NC State from 1972-1975 and in his time there won the NCAA National Championship in 1974. Amongst some of Towe’s greatest honors,  was earning All-ACC recognition and receiving the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award as the year’s best college player under 6 feet tall. In my mind probably the coolest thing about Towe is his connection to greatness. To me if it weren’t for Monte Towe throwing up the alley-oop pass for his teammate to drop in the bucket, a young North Carolina kid from Wilmington maybe wouldn’t have looked up to David Thompson as his biggest role model growing up. Michael Jordan was that young kid, and in 2009 when Michael was inducted into the Naismith Memorial basketball Hall of Fame, Thompson was there by his side the entire speech.


Duo credited with inventing the alley-pop.
Towe and Thompson came together to win a NCAA National Championship in 1974.
Thompson with Jordan after his Hall of Fame speech.

Towe went in the 4th round of the NBA draft in 1975 to the Atlanta Hawks, but played for the Denver Nuggets from 1975-1977. When his playing days were over he joined his old former coach Norm Sloan on the NC State coaching staff and stayed with him over ten years, even when Sloan went to Florida. Monte himself received the wonderful honor of being inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.


Towe as a coach.


Monte Towe is just one of so many incredible stories of a small town kid, small in stature – with giant size heart. He as well as many others are living proof that no matter your circumstances growing up, or what size you are – you can do anything.

Matt, Moore Than Just a Coach


There are special people in this world that appear to go about their business as all others do – but produce differently. I thank God that He has favored me to have insight into the reasons why some things work the way they do; what is a clouded vision to many, is crystal clear to me. I appreciate that understanding, because it allows me to bring to light amazing people who have touched my life – and articulate why, they are amazing. Transparency is truly what sets us apart from one another. There is no greater component of change and inspiration than being relatable. The ability to open up not only for self – but to want to for someone else is an incredible quality to have. Some may think that being so open means you are at your weakest moment – but it is surely a way to find strength; and a way for others to find it with you.


Great leaders – they know how to change the environment in which they work, develop a culture that bears great fruit – because they know how to relate to those who work closely with them. Matt Moore, is as down to earth a basketball coach as you’ll ever meet; my experiences with “coach”, as I call him, are my own – so our views may be different and that’s ok. But the relationship that I’ve developed with him over the course of this past year, has truly been a blessing to me. A man who didn’t know me from Adam – wrapped his arms around me and welcomed me onto his coaching staff as if I was his own brother. I watched him keep a tightly knit group of gentlemen around him on his journey as head basketball coach at Kokomo High school. I seen how he took a group of young men with great potential, and some that were pretty rough around the edges – and helped them grow into men by the end of the season because he demanded greatness out of them; showed them that being a man is more about who you are off the basketball court, than who you are on the floor.



It did my heart good, to be a part of that environment – and he knew that. He granted me access to whatever I wanted as a coach, and allowed me to have a voice. I’m thankful that he seen something in me he knew would add value to the basketball program. Even more than him allowing me to be a part of Kokomo basketball, I am thankful for his friendship; In so many ways our home life matched up with one another. We both are married and had three kids at one time – he now has a fourth beautiful little baby girl, we worked to provide for our families and we love hoops. On several occasions we had the chance to talk, just he and I, and what I took away from those conversations with him was powerful. I found out more about who I was as a man because he allowed me to access who he was outside of being a brilliant basketball coach. I know I’m not the only person who has experienced this energy from him – but he makes you feel as if you are the only one that exists in that time with him. I know that personality resonated with everyone on the basketball staff, because I seen how that contagious mindset spread throughout an entire basketball organization. It gave us other coaches an unbelievable sense of freedom to do the exact same things he did for us, for others. We as coaches could help, and connect with our players in a way that maybe they’d never had before. What do you think that does for a young man? It breaks down walls, and barriers which possibly hinder them from being better basketball players – more importantly, better people.



Who we are as a coach of any sport and the success we have, first begins with who we are outside of the arena; and much, much more that involves being a selfless human being. Matt Moore is a great coach, because he is a great man! So, be sure that in whatever role you are currently fulfilling that you are either following selflessness, or leading selflessly. Thank you “coach” for your example.



Show Versatility


I met a young lady a couple of days ago that I didn’t recognize, and that’s hard here in Kokomo, Indiana. I was introduced to her by a distinguished gentleman that I know from the facility I use for my basketball program – her parents were present as well. As he proceeded to tell them who I was and about my business there, I approached the young lady with my hand extended and introduced myself as JC Barnett. Right away I noticed how shy she was. Her mother standing just to the right of her, kind of gave her a nudge to have her tell me what her name was. I then asked her where she attended school and what grade she was in. Again, with another gentle nudge her mother encouraged her to tell me that she was in the 9th grade, and that she was a basketball player. Of course naturally I asked her, “so you’ll be going out for the basketball team this coming season?” She replies with, “I don’t know, I’m not sure yet.”


She was such a sweet girl and it was a pleasure meeting her.. . I don’t know what will come of that young lady, or what she will decide to do – but I remember as a 9th grader, having a desire to do everything. I know most people are not like me, or think as I do as far as sports are concerned – that’s ok. One thing I did mention to her before we parted ways that day, was to be involved in as much as you possibly can. Do as much as you can handle, because that’s what helps you to thrive as a human being. The more you can put your skills and abilities on display the more opportunity you give yourself to move into different avenues in life.


I credit in large part, hoops, as the reason I have my current job – because of an amazing man I met on the basketball court. Being a decent football player got me a partial scholarship to a Division 3 college, which helped put a dent in high tuition. Football also is a huge part of what helped me build the confidence to be a basketball coach. I had my first experience in coaching a PAL football team in 2005 and then in 2006 I helped coach wide receivers with Aaron Alexander at Kokokomo High school, under Wayne Lance. Running track is where I met coach Byrnes, one of the kindest, most down to earth individuals I’ve ever met – he would do anything to help me or anybody else.


Do it all!! It does not hurt you to be an active student athlete in today’s society – it only helps you to move forward in this world.