Over the last decade, prep school basketball has become an option that some high school players have chosen to venture through after their four years of eligibility has expired in their state athletic association. Prep school gives the player another year of growth on and off the court before they start the clock on their college careers.
Throughout this season, TexasHoops.com will be following the prep season of Warren Sledge at Future College Prep in Harbor City, Cal. Sledge played his high school basketball at Keller Central High School where his father, Gerald, was the assistant coach and now the current head coach.
Q and A: Warren with TexasHoops.com
You are almost through a semester of prep, what has been the biggest off the court adjustment?
The biggest adjustment I've had to make off the court is not being around my parents and friends all the time. The daily advice I would get from them about basketball and life itself are the biggest differences.
What areas have you seen your game grow the most during the fall semester?
I am becoming more of a vocal leader in this first semester on the court. Point guards should always be the coach on the court and I'm steadily trying to improve in that category.
Q and A: Father/Coach Sledge with TexasHoops.com
What were the main criteria you were looking for in choosing a prep school for you son?
Prep school was not originally the plan but our affiliation with Texas Select AAU Basketball Club and Coach Pat Willis helped make this an option that we began to explore. Warren played with Texas Select the summer prior to going into his senior year playing with Jamar Goodwin who was headed to North Carolina to play at a prep academy; this was my first introduction to prep schools and academies. As Warren and I were evaluating his college options Warren was working out with NBA Skills Coach Mark Peters, the skills trainer for Darius Miller of the New Orleans Hornets and former Kentucky Wildcat. Coach Peters was very impressed with Warren's work ethic, skills, strength, and speed and shocked that Warren did not have better options coming out of his recruitment especially after watching him play against some of his other D1 clients.
Workouts with Coach Peters playing against guys that were two years older and currently playing at the D1 level reassured Warren that he could play at a higher level than where he was being recruited. In order for him to get another chance at being recruited we began to pursue prep opportunities.
In pursuing prep opportunities I had to focus on cost first as teacher/coach and single parent. Academically Warren is a qualifier with above average SAT/ACT scores and location could not be a factor because there are not any post graduate prep schools or academies locally. Most of the top prep opportunities are in the northeast in Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, etc. With cost being a major factor we first looked for schools or programs that would help with financing by offering financial aid or scholarship money but most money is obligated by February and we considered this option in late April. We found a couple of prep situations that were affordable but the credibility of the program and the coach was also a factor and none of those places provided me comfort in those areas.
I came across a new prep academy called Future College Prep Academy in Harbor City a suburb of Los Angeles and after researching the background of the coach and what he had done with another program up north of the state. This situation was perfect because Warren's grandparents live in the Los Angeles area, he could live with them and this would reduce cost significantly due to not having to pay boarding fees. Warren went out to play with the team in a team camp at UC Santa Barbara in late June to see if it would be a good fit and he really enjoyed his visit and playing there.
As a coach and father, how are you hoping to see this year in prep school impact Warren's life on and off the court?
On the court I am hoping that it provides him with the opportunity to be evaluated more fairly on his abilities away from playing for his father. I think the biggest problem with his recruitment was that he did exactly what we asked him to do as player and that is all we had on film. When Coach Pehl or myself tried to share with college coaches that he was capable of more than what is on film it just sounded like we were trying to sale Warren as his dad and dad's friend and not his coaches. Playing for another coach should show diversity, demonstrate his true abilities, and allow college coaches to get the opinion of a more neutral coach.
Warren is an extremely focused kid and knows what he wants. He has dedicated himself to pursuing a dream of playing D1 basketball and has done well in every situation that he has been faced with, worked his butt off in the off season two and three times a day, and kept his nose clean by never getting in trouble off the court. That is all I can ask as his dad, work hard on your craft and conquer the options, opportunities and obstacles in front of you.
Warren Sledge Journal Entry #2
During my first semester at prep my experience on the court is much different because the competition is much tougher and instead of being THE GUY for the team, there are multiple guys that play that role. My experience off the court is great because I've been to USC football and basketball games, UCLA football games, LA Clippers games, Venice beach a few times and to downtown LA. So it has all been a good time off the court.
Life on the Court
After two strong performances against Findlay Prep and LaJolla Prep in our first report, Warren put a strong stat line against Orange Coast College with 16 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds.