- National Teams
For Episode 89 of the Hoopsfix podcast we sit down with Kent Crusaders Director Jesse Sazant.
Sazant, originally from Canada, built the foundations of his coaching career and philosophy working under the legendary Dave Smart at Carleton University, before moving to the UK in 2000 to pursue his teaching career.
He got involved with Kent Crusaders – then known as East Kent Crusaders – the day he landed in England, before becoming a director 3 years later and taking over the reins of the programme. In the 17 years since, the Crusaders have grown to mini ballers (boys & girls), U12 (boys & girls), U14 (boys & girls), U16 (men), U18 (men) and Senior men’s teams, along with two academies.
Alongside the Crusaders, Jesse has served Head Coach of the England Under-15 boys development program for 5 years, assisted the England Under-16 men for 4 years, was Chairman of the EABL for 4 years, has coached various South East Regional teams and was a statistician at the London 2012 Olympics.
Sazant also served in the competitions group for Basketball England’s Basketball Development Model (BDM) in 2016.
In this two hour episode, we discuss the growth of Canadian basketball and the lessons that can be applied to British basketball, along with the birth of the EABL and Basketball England’s attempts to change the game through the BDM and much more.
02:32 Interview start
02:58 Jesse’s start in basketball in Canada
05:23 Who is Dave Smart and his relevance to basketball in Canada
06:39 What his takeaways and learnings were from working with Dave Smart
11:15 Dave’s confrontational demeanour and whether it can be too much
13:38 Smart’s role as GB U20 Head Coach and what happened with the programme
16:53 Whether the young British player mentality is not ready for accountability
20:01 Fixing the depth problem within British basketball
24:09 If defining club’s levels needs to be federation led
26:26 Whether the BBL could be taking a lead on the pathway
28:38 How Canada develops players and the mixture between clubs and school sides
34:50 Canada’s rise to prominence as a basketball nation
39:41 Coach development in the UK
46:43 Why Jesse moved to the UK and his biggest surprises about basketball here
52:06 The progression of basketball since he has been here
53:52 His intentions around coaching when he moved here
56:24 His year with Humph Long at the East London Royals
1:00:44 How much of an advantage London or big city clubs have
1:02:27 How to prevent players from moving clubs
1:05:09 Making the decision to focus on the Crusaders
1:06:45 Becoming a director of Kent Crusaders and taking the reins
1:08:20 Whether there were aspirations to have a BBL franchise
1:09:00 Could Kent support a BBL franchise?
1:10:09 Discovering Ryan Richards
1:16:50 Whether it was obvious Richards was a potential NBA player
1:18:25 If Ryan reached his potential as a player
1:21:35 Academy basketball – why academies are important and what role they have to play
1:25:25 The different competitions academies were competing in originally
1:27:11 The formation of the EABL and where it has come to
1:38:32 The decision by Basketball England to move the academy leagues back in-house
1:42:11 Easy wins for the academy leagues to improve
1:44:43 Basketball England’s BDM – Basketball Development Model
1:50:58 The scale of the changes the BDM were initially proposing
1:53:28 The change of direction the Kent Crusaders decided
1:58:36 Favourite coach he’s been around
1:59:14 Best British junior player he’s seen
2:00:23 Favourite basketball memory
2:01:29 Best individual British basketball performance he’s witnessed
2:02:23 What’s in the future for Jesse and Kent Crusaders in the next 3-5 years
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