In this edition of NBA India All-Access, we welcome Scott Flemming, the current Senior Director of Basketball Operations for NBA India.
Most Indian basketball fans will remember Flemming dearly for the heights the Indian national basketball team reached during his tenure as the Head Coach of the Men's squad from 2012 to 2015. However, there's a lot more to his resume than just that.
Prior to coming to India back in 2012, Flemming had close to three decades of coaching experience, a majority of which was at the collegiate level from 1982 to 2010 in the United States. During his two-decade stint as the Head Men's Basketball Coach for the Mount Vernon Nazarene University between 1990 to 2010, he was named National Coach of the Year not once but twice in 1998 and 2000.
From 2010 to 2012, he was an assistant coach under Del Harris for the Texas Legends, the G-League affiliate of the NBA franchise - the Dallas Mavericks. Still going strong after just over a year as Sr. Director of Basketball Operations for NBA India, Coach Scott took some from his busy schedule to speak to Yash Matange on behalf of NBA.com/India.
Here's how the conversation went:
Yash Matange: Your most memorable moments/games as head coach of the Indian Men's Basketball Team?
Scott Flemming: Certainly our win against China on their home court in the 2014 Asia Cup was a memorable win for me and for Indian Basketball. The other one that stands out is our win versus Angola in the Championship of the Lusofonia Games in front of 4000 screaming India fans in Goa.
Matange: Amjyot Singh represented the national team during your tenure. What did you see in him then and where has he improved the most now from those days that has helped him reach heights like the NBA G-League (currently with the OKC Blue)?
Flemming: I saw great potential in Amjyot during my time with the national team. He was very coachable and I saw him even improve greatly during that period. He has always been naturally gifted but I think he has grown in his ball-handling and shooting skills. His maturity has helped him to see the need to play consistently at a high-intensity level.
Matange: As the Senior Director of Basketball Operations for NBA India, you obviously play a key role in the league's Jr. programme in the country. As a culmination of that year, how proud of a moment was it to have the young boys/girls compete against each other in the country and then for the winners to move on to the Jr. NBA World Championship in Orlando this past August?
Flemming: This was an exciting process from beginning to the end. It literally started with young boys and girls training on local courts and then culminating at the big stage in Orlando, FL at the Jr. NBA World Championship. This was truly a team effort and I give most of the credit to my colleagues on our NBA India Basketball Operations staff
Matange: Coach, you have over 2 decades of coaching experience at various levels of the game. When you search for talent in youngsters, especially those in the Jr. NBA programmes, what are the things you look for the most?
Flemming: You have to start with natural athletic ability and then you look for the intangibles. It is not as important that they are already accomplished at basketball. I look at the potential they possess. Things I particularly look at is work ethic, competitiveness, and a positive attitude.
Matange: Could you share with our readers some information on what a normal day's schedule looks like for the kids at the NBA Academy in Noida, India?
Flemming: It is a holistic approach to development. They may have a short workout in the morning and then they attend school during weekdays. When they return from school, they have basketball practice, combined with strength and conditioning. They all eat together after that. Nutrition is an important part of their training. There is also designated times for studying, which includes working with tutors for some of them. We have also added sports psychology to their mental training.
#TBT to the best of the 2017-18 season, as another #RFJrNBA season begins! pic.twitter.com/CWoyhEVfql- NBAIndia (@NBAIndia) November 29, 2018
Matange: As we are close to the tip-off to the 2018-19 RFJrNBA season, could you tell us what you are looking forward to the most? More importantly, could you share with the NBA fans in India, what they can expect and what this 2018-19 RFJrNBA season is all about?
Flemming: We will again conduct our RF Jr. NBA in-school programs, as well as our Skills Challenge contests. Last year we reached 5 million kids through our RF Jr. NBA programs. I am really excited about adding 5 on 5 tournaments in all of our 34 cities this year. The national championship field will increase from 8 to 12 teams for both boys and girls. We will also launch a pilot program concentrating on talent development for a select group of young players.
Coach Scott is a regular panel analyst on NBA India's weekend pre-game and post-game show on the sports channels of the Sony Pictures Network - Around the Hoop, so we picked his brains on a few questions related to the ongoing 2018-19 NBA season:
Matange: Your predictions for the 2019 NBA Finalists and subsequently the Champions?
Flemming: I think it could be Toronto and Golden State in the Finals, with Golden State winning it all again.
Matange: Currently 14-9, how far do you think LeBron James and the Lakers would advance?
Flemming: I believe they have a shot at making the playoffs. I've learned not to doubt LeBron so they could make some noise if they qualify for the playoffs
Matange: Who's slow start are you more surprised by - Boston Celtics or Utah Jazz?
Flemming: Definitely the Celtics. They are loaded with talent. It is taking some time for them to find their chemistry. I expect they will have a strong second half.
Matange: Your 2018-19 MVP pick?
Flemming: There are many potential candidates already in this season. When you look at where the Cavs are now and how the Lakers have made a big step forward I would have to go with LeBron. There have been other years I think he deserved it but he has set the bar so high that it hurts him in the voting.
Matange: A quarter of the season in, what has been the most feel good positive story of the year so far for you?
Flemming: After being fired, Dwane Casey, the 2017-18 Coach of the Year, moving to Detroit and having success once again.
Matange: Do you believe there will be any first-time All-Stars this time other than Ben Simmons?
Flemming: I think Tobias Harris, from the Clippers, has a good chance of becoming an All-Star this year. He is having a great year for a surprise team.