Sept. 24-25 marked the second annual Big East Freshmen Fundamentals program, in which freshmen from all 10 Big East basketball teams were invited to New York City in an effort to ease the transition from high school to collegiate basketball. Among the attendees were Seton Hall’s Eron Gordon and Myles Powell.
The program was highlighted by a panel of former Big East players, a presentation on broadcasting from FOX Sports and discussion from experts in media training and personal branding. In addition, the players heard from former NBA Coach and current YES Network analyst Mike Fratello, who offered insight into professional basketball careers.
“It addresses issues that are unique to student-athletes entering big-time institutions,” Senior Associate Commissioner Stu Jackson said of the program.
Utilizing the destination of New York City, the players also took a trip the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, and also took a tour of Madison Square Garden, the home of the Big East Tournament.
With the program in its second year in action, Jackson said changes were made to improve Freshmen Fundamentals for this year’s freshmen.
“We tweaked it a bit,” Jackson said. “First, on the Friday prior to the two days they are here, we have an optional welcome reception to give the student-athletes a chance to interact with one another and get to interact in a social setting. All face many of the same challenges and will be competing with each other in years to come. Getting to know each other is a big key.”
For SHU’s Gordon, he looked forward to being able to get valuable experiences and connections out of Freshmen Fundamentals.
“I expected to make great relationships,” Gordon said. “I expected to meet new people and see some of the other Big East freshmen.
“One thing I really learned is making sure you definitely have a plan after basketball. I got to really meet the people in charge, like we got to meet the commissioner of the Big East, we got to really build relationships with the media and everyone else.”
One element of the weekend that stood out to the Seton Hall freshmen was the panel comprised of former Big East men’s basketball players.
“Just listening to the guys they brought up from the past Big East and what they accomplished and them telling us what they had to go through, telling us it’s not going to be the same,” Powell said.
Among the speakers, Nate Lubick, a former player at Georgetown, had the advice to make a connection with fan boosters. He now works on Wall Street because a booster reached out to him. They became friends, and now Lubick works for the booster.
“Use basketball for more than basketball,” Powell said.
The Big East freshmen also talked to big man Daniel Ochefu, a recent graduate from Villanova and a familiar face when it comes to Seton Hall basketball.
“It was good hearing stuff from him [Ochefu] because he just got out of college, so he had more of a relationship with the kids, us, the freshmen there because he’s just been through it all,” Powell said.
When asked about their favorite moment of the weekend, both Gordon and Powell agreed on it instantly: the trip to the 9/11 Memorial.
“I never experienced anything like that,” Powell said. “It was good to finally step out of basketball and just see everything that was going on with the world at that time. We were young, we didn’t get to see it, so it was good to finally get to see that.”
“That’s something that’s in our roots but we can’t really remember, so it was moving to see all the families that were touched in that moment,” Gordon said.
Using the lessons learned from this weekend, Gordon and Powell, along with the other Big East freshmen, are set to start the season and utilize the resources given to them in the collegiate part of their careers. Jackson created the program in hopes of freshmen transitioning easily in the new collegiate environment, and the student-athletes are now equipped to do just that.
“I’m looking forward to having the chance to listen and to learn, but more importantly interact with a group of professionals that are presenting to them to help them build upon them acting on them,” Jackson said. “I think that’s a big part of Freshmen Fundamentals.”
Elizabeth Swinton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @eswint22.