Sept. 15, 2015
WASHINGTON - For college basketball players, the chance to play basketball at Madison Square Garden, the World's Most Famous Arena, in New York City can be one of the highlights of a career.
Over the weekend, freshmen from the BIG EAST Conference, which calls New York City and Madison Square Garden home, gathered not for a basketball game, but a chance to introduce the first-year players to what life would be like over the next four years.
The inaugural Freshmen Fundamentals Program, which is designed to assist men's basketball student-athletes in the transition from high school to college and the elite level of BIG EAST basketball, included a panel of former conference players, a broadcast presentation by executives from BIG EAST national television partner FOX Sports, and instruction from nationally-acclaimed experts in media training and personal branding.
"This weekend was an extraordinary event," freshman forward Marcus Derrickson (Bowie, Md./Brewster Academy [N.H.]) said. "It provided us with ample amounts of information on what to expect and how to handle the college experience."
After arriving in New York City on Friday, the assembled players received a welcome from BIG EAST Senior Associate Commissioner for Men's Basketball Stu Jackson. The first panel discussion was one on etiquette, personal branding and how to create a positive image in a variety of campus and social settings, directed by DeNita Turner, the President and CEO of Images Builders, Inc.
A panel of former players was hosted by Tarik Turner, a St. John's standout guard who is now an analyst for FOX Sports, and included a pair of former Hoyas Ã¢â'¬" current Milwaukee Buck Greg Monroe and newly-named Director of Basketball Operations Patrick Ewing Jr. Ã¢â'¬" as well as former Villanova guard Randy Foye. That was followed by a media training session from Dan Broden, the President of Broden Communications and a national expert on communications presentation skills.
"What stood out for me was the BIG EAST players panel," freshman forward Kaleb Johnson (South Hill, Va./Carlisle School) said. "It was great to hear from a group of men who have already been in our shoes. The things they brought up in discussion were very relatable."
The first night concluded with a visit to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in lower Mnahattan and a discussion with former NBA Coach Jim O'Brien. On Sunday, the players met with FOX Sports personnel and heard from Turner, who led a discussion on life as a BIG EAST student-athlete and how to take advantage of the educational, social and career-planning opportunities offered by BIG EAST schools.
"This was a very well-organized event," freshman center Jessie Govan (Queens Village, N.Y./Wings Academy) said. "They did a good job of introducing us to the BIG EAST. There were several parts that stood out to me, from the image consulting to the BIG EAST players panel. It was interesting to hear them because they have been through what we are about to go through and they have been to the highest level, which is our ultimate goal."