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The Truth About Tony (Wroten)

Posted in New Posts, News on March 11th, 2012 by Troy Miles

Of course by now the whole world knows what we in Seattle have known since his days at the Rotary (Boy’s and Girls Club)…. Tony Wroten is a basketball phenom headed to the NBA on the draft day express.  He’ll have a guaranteed rookie contract waiting on him, but who knows what else.

He’s perhaps the most compelling and polarizing Seattle-raised sports star (definitely Husky) ever. However, as tremendous as he is, his glaring weaknesses and emotional antics (personally I think his celebrations are reasonable, as long as he doesn’t include opponents in the displays) make him a target in the sports community.  He’s such a talent and has created such a high expectation– in such a short period I might add, that apparently, too many people have forgotten he’s just a kid; and quite honestly, one in a very delicate situation (back to that shortly).

I cannot believe all the flack he has taken for his performance and demonstrative outbreaks at the Pac 12 championships last week. We’d all let out shouts if we could do some of the ridiculous things he does. How thrilling (I’m sure, lol) to grab an offensive rebound, leap back up and smash it through in front of thousands of fans –as if playing “dunk” hoops at the park.  He’s quite simply a basketball prodigy, and no ordinary piece of clay. For those who didn’t know…this child is a Walker.

Now obviously Tony Sr. was a helluva football player at UW and a two-sport stud in high school. It’s evident his DNA is on display. But those Walkers: maaan c’moown. Tony’s mama Shirley was a flat-out BWA (burner with attitude) on the track in high school. Physically intimidating and beset with a gorgeous smile she’d flash after she smoked everybody. His uncle Donnie is a fierce competitor (Lord), I’m sure even at cards.  I’ve been through it with him and his (Tony jr.’s) auntie Joyce– who is easily the “baddest” female athlete from Seattle across all sports.  Their indomitable spirits as a clan are legendary.

Tony’s an anomaly and tricky to handle for a coach (I’m sure). Although he is a tremendous talent, every team he’s played for should have performed better… somehow. As a critical viewer you’re forced to analyze the cohesiveness he brings to the fray, even though his vision and passing skills rival Magic, LeBron and J Kidd. It’s TRUE that sometimes his teammates stand around gawking at him (just like us), waiting to see what he’s going to do next. But seriously, what do you tell a kid with a “shaky” jumper, yet who can get by his man at will (and make plays)… not to be aggressive? Obviously, it’s a more complex issue than what meets the eye. A few additions to his game could solve all those problems. OMG! 

Just as LeBron James is the greatest player we’ve seen (with so much room to grow), Tony fits that description for Huskyville.  They’re both do-how kings – physical “freaks” that would benefit from more know-how.  Whether either grows to match their capabilities to their incredible capacities remains to be seen. It’s a tough spot for them. Think of how hard it is to make adjustments to self. The discomforts of change are hard for anyone to deal with already, imagine being uber-talented and feeling capable “enough”. Besides, change is always  Man vs. Brain in an emotional super-fight scenario, and the brain will use your entire emotional arsenal (rational or not) against you to keep you static. Related: “Brain Game” (Chapter 2).

This is a delicate situation for Tony. How does an 18 year old be objective about his ability and make difficult changes when he’s already so good at his craft.  That’s a psychological juggernaut. He’s All-Everything in the Pac 12 as is, and a sure-fire first rounder. Do you really think he believes he can’t shoot “well enough”? Do you really think he questions his offensive approach at all? Do you think the people around him are critical enough about where he is? Please!  But imagine for a second, if he could shoot the rock as effectively as CJ Wilcox. Ok, I know C.J. might be the best shooter in the country… I’m just sayin’.

If I could get him and LeBron to understand “Lane Play”, LeBron wouldn’t be allowed to play; and neither would Tony (once or IF he gets his shot together). THAT’S A BIG IF! Even top players in high school think they know or can do (enough) for success, let alone the college or pro player.

I know this from experience. I put energy into former Issaquah and American star Garrison Carr and also in current Washington State point guard Reggie Moore as youngsters. Unfortunately, the better they got, the less help they wanted. Tragically Garrison never became what he could have become (an NBA or overseas player-at least), and Reggie is a shell of what he should be based on his immense capacity. It’s tough because you can’t help but want these guys to grow and fully take advantage of their small windows of opportunity. Most kids and parents JUST DON’T GET IT! Related:By the Time You Get To Where You’re Going

Too many pros (at least around here) DON’T GET IT! Most pros don’t think they need any help (to get better) and have a hard time believing  YOU can help them (even if you can). I’ve found more often that pros don’t really want you to help them do anything but maintain themselves (Related:Are Pro’s Just Ho’s”).

Look at Jamal Crawford. I’ve practically begged him to help him get to another level and become an all-star.  He’s another do-how king. In fact, Jamal is a basketball magician. In terms of physical amenities and technical skill sets, he’s a NBA top 10 talent. Sadly, his inconsistency of efficient application of his physical and technical gifts has cost him an all-star status, and possibly all-pro status  Jamal is a great guy and terrific role model for kids in Seattle—I love him. But I can see in his spirit … that the NBA experience and his NBA success to date is enough for him–which is common and ok- if that’s how you roll. Of course it goes against my principles of CQI (Continuous Quality Improvements)…but hey!

I’ve extended myself to Will Conroy (one of my favorite all-time huskies) to help him get over the hump (into the league)… he wasn’t having it (lol).  I always said he deserved to be POY his senior year and deserves to be in the league, but so far he hasn’t improved his shot enough (in the eyes of the NBA brass) and his window is closing fast –if not already shut, like the door on Bobby Jones-who I’ve also tried to help… damn. It’s a shame so many stars and bubble-stars are like that.  I’ve seen it over and over, once a kid gets to a certain level, THEY TYPICALLY DON’T WANT THE RIGHT KIND OF HELP!

Making matters worse (for kids), too often, it’s the people around these guys (including parents, coaches, trainers, etc.) that actually prevent them from getting exactly what they need– especially those already helping kids with their games. Many of these types are more concerned with where the credit goes. The latter often take it as a “knock” on the body of work they’ve done with kid to that point (if you propose help). But that ain’t the point! It should be more about the interest of the player, period. It takes a village to raise a child and certainly a village to raise a ballplayer.

I could help these guys. (Miles Ahead Virtual Training). My dad could certainly help these guys. However, MPT (the right material, the right pressure, and right amount of time) to make a diamond, most importantly requires the right person (pupil) also. (Related: “eMPTy Without it” ) There’s usually uncertainty with where the kid’s head is (so many outside pressures and opinions).

What’s certain is my dad (Eddie Miles)and I both have the pedigree and verifiable approaches to help all these kids.  It’s tough because as a fan and especially as a teacher, I want to see these guys and gals continue to push themselves forward, just as I want for my own sons and neices. (For the record, my youngest son is “dropping” straight A’s (25/10…lol) as a senior at UW and my oldest boy Xavier (Miles Ingalls) is a world-class musician and quite possibly the next big act out of Seattle. Stay tuned.)

Tony’s right to play in the NBA is not at stake, but his chances for NBA superstardom are.  I’d love to see all the Seattle guys get the right help: Jamal, Martel, Will, Bobby, Spencer …all of them. Outside of Brandon (Roy), JT (Jason Terry) operates closer to his capacity than any other Seattle-raised hoop star (at least among the boys).  In fact ALL the Seattle cats, (Terrence, Nate and Pepe included) are do-howers, except maybe for Aaron (Brooks) and Isaiah (Thomas)–I’m still expecting all-star type stuff from both of them in the future. Nate gets a pass because he’s so beast-minded.

I’m proud of all these kids, just want to see them operate in their higher selves. That’s what it’s going to take once they’re done playing and plug into the “real” world anyway.

The truth is, Tony Wroten is a fierce once-in-a-lifetime talent, who is destined to one day look David Stern in the eyes, shake his hand and put on an NBA hat to cap off his dream.  But what will happen in the dream will be the real story of Tony Wroten jr



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