Hassan Whiteside, ADD & Basketball Performance

In the 2010 NBA Draft, Sacramento selected Marshall’s Hassan Whiteside in the second round with the 33rd pick. Early in the draft process, many pegged Whiteside as a borderline lottery pick, with one rumor suggesting that the Kings would select Whiteside with its first round pick, #5 overall.

Whiteside is 7’0 tall with a ridiculous 7’7 wingspan. He only played one year at Marshall, not a major conference program, and averaged an NCAA-best 5.4 blocks per game. He is a typical potential and upside pick, as opposed to a polished player.

However, according to many reports, he fell to the second round because he reportedly has ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). While I do not know Whiteside or his history, this seems to be a poor reason to pass on a player.

Many athletes are kinesthetic learners – they learn by doing, and sports rewards this type of learning. However, kinesthetic learners often struggle in a classroom setting because they do not learn as well by reading or listening. When their fidgeting starts to interfere with a classroom environment, many of these children are labeled ADD. Rather than diversify our instructional methods, it is easier to sedate these children and attempt to maintain the status quo classroom environment.

Sports provide an outlet for kinesthetic learners and those with ADD. I can pick out the players who tend to get in trouble in the classroom when I coach them because their fidgeting or constant motion is seen by most teachers as troublesome behavior.

On the court, however, ADD should not be an impediment to one’s athletic development. A coach simply needs to be aware of the athlete’s instructional needs. Rather than verbal instructions, he needs more time to walk-through a play or do a new move actively several times rather than translating verbal instructions immediately to performance.

I would be shocked if Whiteside was the only player with ADD drafted last night. He may be an extreme case, and he may need some added patience or assistance from the coaching staff, but ADD should not stand in his way of developing into an NBA player.

I know a player who transferred because his college coach did not know how to work with a player with fairly severe ADD. I think the player is great. He is emotional and loses his head sometimes, but he plays hard at all times, competes relentlessly and cares more than any of his teammates. He is not the easiest player to coach, but his production and dedication certainly justify the extra attention and patience that he requires. When his coach takes a positive approach and understands his needs, he maintains concentration, works hard, learns and improves. It is only when he had a coach who lacked patience and who could not vary his instructional style that he struggled on the court. It is easy for the old coach to blame the player and his mental issues, but I see a failure by a coach to adapt to his players’ needs, especially at the college level where the coach knew who he was recruiting.

The Kings’ staff knows who it drafted and I assume that they have the coaches prepared to show extra patience and give the needed attention to help Whiteside maximize his talent and become a good NBA player.

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~ by Brian McCormick on June 25, 2010.

One Response to “Hassan Whiteside, ADD & Basketball Performance”

  1. Brian,

    1. If you’ve already read my opinion about Hassan Whiteside’s capacity to become a standout NBA player on my blog, then, you probably know that I share your sense of dismay that so many different teams were scared away from selecting this young man because of this relatively benign medical condition that can be treated in a highly effective way through [i] a variety of different behaviour/teaching/learning techniques and strategies … on behalf of both parties in an educational setting [i.e. the pupil and the teacher] … and/or [ii] general accepted forms of mild medication.

    2. If what you’ve claimed in this blog entry is an accurate description of the real-life situation which exists with Hassan Whiteside … and both the Kings and Hassan are prepared for the challenges ahead … then, Sacramento might well have found themselves one h*lluva of player early in the 2nd Round of last night’s NBA Draft. :-)


    PS. On a personal note, I happen to have personal experience working with a player that has been identified with ADD … just like you have … and can tell you without equivocation that I share your same perception on this matter. Kudos to you for bringing this topic into a public light on your blog.

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