- National Teams
For Episode 77 of the Hoopsfix podcast, we sit down with Director of Myerscough College basketball academy, Neal Hopkins.
In just eight years, Neal has built Myerscough to one of the most successful elite academies in the UK, winning multiple titles, including two in the EABL (the most recent being a co-championship), plus three Division 3 titles whilst gaining promotion to Division 2, along with a European Youth Basketball League regular season title last year, all whilst sending numerous players to the US on scholarship.
Also a GB U20 assistant last summer with the team in Division A, and an assistant with the Mersey Tigers in the BBL during their most successful period winning three titles, Hopkins has a wealth of experience across different levels of the game, and has won six Coach of the Year awards across the EABL and NBL.
In this 1 hour and 20 minute conversation, we cover a range of topics including his background, building an academy, the state of the academy basketball leagues in general, the impact of COVID-19 on the coming season and much more!
03:11 How Sam first came across Neal in 2010
04:30 Neal’s focus on coaching in terms of qualifications & ensuring his financials were taken care of to be able to coach
09:30 Freebie culture in British basketball and building a basketball economy
13:20 Neal’s background in basketball growing up
17:32 The forgotten ‘recreational’ basketball crowd
19:00 Why both Runshaw and Myerscough have been in less populated rural areas
23:12 Ensuring games were filmed from early and doing highlight tapes
27:01 The importance of digital/social media presence and online brand for basketball programmes
34:24 The lack of awareness in the UK of the different levels
39:35 Having difficult conversations with players who aren’t so good but want to pursue a career
42:58 Dealing with blowback on Hoopsfix All-Star Classic selection
44:01 The European experience; competing in the EYBL, how it first came about and the journey
50:55 The format of the EYBL and how the competition works
55:51 Dealing with loading of the extra games and managing the domestic season too
58:56 The feeling of winning the EYBL regular season title and what it meant for Neal personally
1:02:55 The state of the academy leagues, talk of ‘super academies’ and the direction they are heading
1:08:45 What Neal would do if he was Head of Performance for the federation to grow elite talent
1:13:22 The dilution of the EABL and the ABL
1:14:57 The impact of COVID-19 on the coming season