By Todd Wilson (PGC Grad)
The summer of 1995 was the summer before my senior year in high school. I was a basketball player that at 17 years old, had dreamed of playing in college for 15 years. I attended showcase camps all summer, but saved one week in June to travel to the University of St. Thomas in Houston, TX to attend Dick DeVenzio’s, Point Guard College Basketball Camp. I had read “Stuff! Good Players Should Know” a dozen times at this point.
Dick required all athletes to write him a letter as to why we wanted to attend the Point Guard Basketball College, an application letter of sorts. When introducing everyone on the first night of camp, he would call on the athlete, & from memory, mention something they had written in their letter. When he got to me he said, “And you’re Todd from Mississippi, I remember you. You’re a big point guard, I always resented big point guards.” I liked him immediately!
I loved the PGC!!! Playing without fouls. The challenge of playing co-ed. The tournament the last night of camp. Getting to know my roommate, & current Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner. Dick somewhat scolded me & taught me an important lesson on the last day, after complimenting my performance in the tournament. He told me that a player like myself, had to play with a sense of urgency all the time. As if my team was down a point or up a point, with time running out, but for the entire game. It’s a lesson that served me well in my career.
I was thrilled when he sent me a complimentary copy of his book, “There’s Only One Way to Win” about his father who, like my father, was a basketball coach. Reading it was like reading a mirror image of my own upbringing in the sport of basketball. Even the part about being nose to nose with your father in the middle of a game while he yelled because a player you hit in the face with a ball missed the pass. Dick & I would write letters to each other several times a year in the next 4 years in which I played collegiately.
I was also very saddened the day I found out about his death. I emailed his brother Huck, who thanked me for my sentiments and said that he would share them with Coach DV. I hope Huck and Coach DV knew I meant every word.
Dick embodied so many great things that are missing from not just basketball, but sport. Not a mere pursuit for excellence, but a pursuit for just 88% efficiency or effort as few people honestly ever give or achieve that much. My copy of his first book, “Stuff! Good Players Should Know” is barely held together by the binding, entire sections have been underlined, starred, highlighted, etc. by both myself and my father who gave me the book as a young adolescent.
I’m 6’5″ and an above average athlete, but not an extraordinary athlete by any means. Thanks to Dick I was able to hone some skills, increase my knowledge and develop a discipline and work ethic in every aspect of my life that allowed a little boy to live out some of his dreams by traveling the country playing basketball, and later coaching. As a coach, I often catch myself using phrases that Dick used, trying to remember as closely as possible the way he worded things in order to ensure maximum transfer to players.
In my personal life I’ve often harkened back to his 88% rule, ‘Beating you yesterday,’ and perhaps the greatest lesson one can EVER learn: Excuses are for losers.
I could write endlessly about the teachings, writings, and stories of Dick, but I’ll leave with this; he once told me, as we were discussing goals, that his dream in life was to write an influential novel. Now, I don’t know the type of novel he intended to write, but the most influential book I have ever read was his very own, “Think Like a Champion.” I read quite a bit, & virtually every book on success, or even self-help comes off as a cheap paraphrase of “Think Like a Champion.” I’ve said before that it should be required reading for every high school athlete & their parents. Colleges could do well to offer a class on the book to their athletes, coaches, & administrators.
Whether you are an athlete, parent of an athlete, businessman, just like sports, or just work at WalMart, “Think Like a Champion” can make you better at that. I can recommend a book on virtually any topic, but regardless of the topic, it is the book for over 20 years that I have always recommended when recommending books.
I currently coach high school basketball, & if I can pass on just a few of the lessons I learned from Dick, I’ll consider myself successful, regardless of what my record ever is.
In the picture of the two of us, Dick wanted to pose like that, he said “Here, let’s do this, that way we look like we just won a championship.”
Athlete Story | Leif Skelding
In the biggest game of my collegiate career, I destroyed my knee in a freak accident during warmups. With my season over, I was left with one question: “How do I contribute even while not being able to play?”
Coach Story | Chris Guandalini
I still can’t figure out who recommended PGC to me after my junior year of high school, but I am very thankful they did. I wish I knew about it a season or two earlier.
Athlete Story | April Boldman
I’ve been coaching in some capacity (various sports and levels) since 1996 and have been teaching and coaching since 2005. I was drawn to PGC because of the culture. The basketball stuff is amazing, but it’s the leadership and mentality training that’s truly impacted my life (and those around me).
PGC Basketball provides intense, no-nonsense basketball training for players and coaches. Our basketball camps are designed to teach players of all positions to play smart basketball, be coaches on the court, and be leaders in practices, games and in everyday life.
We combine our unique PGC culture with a variety of teaching methods and learning environments to maximize the learning potential of those that attend our sessions. In addition to spending 6-7 hours on the court each day, lessons will be reinforced through classroom sessions and video analysis.
Our goal at PGC is to empower you with the tools to fulfill your basketball dreams, while also assisting you in experiencing the joy of the journey.