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The huddle

June 24, 2018

Florida Southern College Men’s Basketball: Coach Mike Donnelly Talks Do’s and Don’ts of Highlight Tapes and Social Media

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Mike Donnelly, the Head Coach of the Florida Southern College men’s basketball team, is a coach who values commitment, passion, and dedication to the game of basketball. When asked what the most important quality in a recruit is, Donnelly responded, “Gym rats. We want recruits who want to be in the gym and want to improve their game.” Mike Donnelly was a college basketball player for Central Connecticut State University and Sacred Heart University. Coach Donnelly’s love for gym rats likely stems from the fact that he understands the work that is necessary to be a successful collegiate basketball player.

Before taking the job at Florida Southern, Donnelly was the head coach at Southern Connecticut State University for five years. He engineered a turnaround in his first season by leading SCSU to their first Northeast-10 Conference tournament. He also was named NABC Regional and NE-10 Coach of the Year in one of his five years. Donnelly went 97-48 (.669) during his tenure at SCSU. His record shows that Donnelly has grown accustomed to winning, and with winning comes high expectations. On the topic of his expectations for incoming players, Donnelly said, “Our expectations are very high. We expect our players to succeed at the highest level both on and off the court”.

Currently, Coach Donnelly is entering his third year as the head coach of Florida Southern. In his two years, Coach Donnelly has coached a handful of All-Conference selections, including SSC Defensive Player of the Year, Jarel Spellman. What might be even more important to Coach Donnelly, however, is his athletes’ performances academically and their communication skills. On the topic of the do’s and don’ts of being recruited, Coach Donnelly thought a recruit “must be a good student (high GPA, test scores, low-class absences)” and must be able to communicate with the coaching staff properly”. This is exemplified by the fact that in two years, twenty of his players have been named to the SSC academic honor roll and his team was awarded the NABC Team Academic Excellence Award.

Coach Donnelly and his staff value compact highlight tapes and also in-person evaluation. We asked Coach Donnelly what the main do’s and don’ts for a recruits highlight tape. He relayed that he likes short videos (around 3-5 minutes). In addition, when we asked Coach Donnelly when the best time was for recruits to put together and share their highlight reels, he responded, “One highlight in summer (AAU competition) and one highlight during the high school season.” Of the multitude of questions we asked Coach Donnelly, he responded most thoroughly to the questions about highlight tapes. We finally asked him what jumps out when reviewing a highlight tape. His response was, “athleticism, shooting ability, and the competition level of opposition.”

In this day and age, social media is scrutinized during the recruiting process. Everyone wants to know how different coaches and universities stand on recruits and their social media accounts. When Coach Donnelly was playing, he didn’t have to worry about social media use, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t understand the importance of having quality players and that social media can help distinguish those athletes. On the topic of social media, Coach Donnelly said, “we monitor social media accounts. Anything inappropriate or negative is a red flag for us. Don’t fall victim to inappropriate social media postings.”

Lastly, I want to end with a valuable piece of advice from Coach Mike Donnelly. When he was a kid and going into high school, Coach Donnelly had aspirations to be a D1 basketball athlete and maybe even play professionally. He came to realize that wasn’t going to happen, so he played D2. He loved the competition and work ethic that was needed to be a D2 athlete. He has a critical piece of advice to athletes who find themselves in a similar situation as he had, “be realistic with your potential and level. D1 is not the only high level of play. D2 is a highly competitive scholarship level of play”.

LRT Sports would like to thank Coach Mike Donnelly for his time and advice.

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