SLAM PH contributor Vic Sebastian caught up with international basketball trainer Drew Dunlop, who’s currently in the country to work some private training sessions and train some of our PBA athletes.
Vic talked with him about what it’s like to be a basketball trainer, his favorite place to train, and his other basketball projects.
SLAM PH: Before we talk about your training career, give us brief background on your basketball journey.
DREW DUNLOP: I played two years at junior college and then finished up at a Division 3 school in Wisconsin. From there, I got an internship with [Michael] Jordan’s trainer, Tim Grover, in 2010 and that’s kinda where it went off. He sent me to Shanghai for three months to do consulting. Before I knew it, I did three years in the CBA. My third year I ended up deciding I wanted to do consulting so I just started traveling around Asia. Went to Jordan, Turkey, Taiwan, South Korea, and the Philippines, which was a dream of mine. In 2015 I had a chance to come here and work for Talk ‘N Text and NLEX. I met Jimmy [Alapag] and started working with the Meralco guys. It’s awesome here and I love it.
SLAM PH: What was it like to work with Tim Grover? What did you learn from him and what still applies to you today?
DD: He told me that training is always about basketball. It’s about deep teaching and just focusing on the small details. Every workout I do with guys no matter what level, college or pro, that’s what still applies.
SLAM PH: What is the most memorable team that you coached?
DD: During my second year in China, I was assistant coach for the Guangdong Tigers and we went all the way to win the championship. We had Donald Sloan and Ike Diogu as our imports. It was a great year.
SLAM PH: As a skills trainer, what’s the go-to move for the players that you train?
DD: It kinda varies among players. Some players are good with step-backs, some players are fancy with a two-three dribble combo. It depends on the player’s level but I’m just big on teaching counters. So, if the defense cuts you off, you always have a counter to it.
SLAM PH: Favorite place you have trained in so far?
DD: Philippines. This is my spot, man. I wanna post up and stay here for the rest of my career. I love it here.
SLAM PH: Among the players you’ve trained, who was the most attentive?
DD: Honestly, when I got to start working with Jimmy [Alapag], that guy’s an ultra-professional. He just listens and even with his age, he still wants to push himself. Jared [Dillinger] too, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Jared. He just constantly wants to work and get back from injury. I’ve been blessed to work with NLEX, Talk ‘N Text, and all those guys. Sean Anthony too, I mean everyone just opened up and allowed me to coach them.
SLAM PH: How do you deal with failure?
DD: I look at it as a long-term process. You might have setbacks day-to-day but you got to think about the big picture and think about working towards your game and try to improve yourself day after day.
SLAM PH: How do you motivate the athletes that you train?
DD: It always starts by asking what motivates them. I try to connect and hear their stories so I can pick the buttons to push and motivate them during their most fatigued moment or when they feel like giving up.
SLAM PH: Other than coaching or training, what other projects do you have that is in line with the game of basketball?
DD: Right now I’m working on a bunch of online stuff where I help young coaches learn about the game. I’m also working on some online training programs for youth athletes. I worked in China for the Nike Rise project. I just try to give back as much as possible. Every opportunity that comes my way I try and be a part of it.
SLAM PH: What is it like working with the youth?
DD: It’s important for kids to learn the fundamentals of basketball at an early age. The thing about the grassroots program is it’s where you can really impact these kids. Even though I always train college and pro level athletes, I still give time to the youth because they’re the future and it’s nice to give them the knowledge early.
SLAM PH: How does the SKLZ training equipment help you in training your athletes?
DD: It’s great. It adds a whole new level to the training such as the dribble sticks and the weighted basketballs. Game-relevant equipment such as the D-Man helps our guys shoot over the defender as if someone was really defending them during shootaround. They have really great products to incorporate in training and it helps our players push a little bit harder.