At one point in the year English went up to Haith during a shootaround and suggested the team make a change in their rover set following a loss to Kansas State, and Haith agreed.
“When we would get into that set,” he explains, “Matt Pressey would be the scorer in the rover set, and me and Ricardo Ratliffe would be screening for him. After we lost to Kansas State, our next game was at Iowa State and I went to Coach Haith to talk about our rover set in shootaround before the game and asked why didn’t he put Matt as one of the screeners and let me be the rover scorer, and Coach said he was thinking the exact same thing last night, and we ended up doing it in that game and we did it against Iowa State each time. It was so good to have a coaching staff that was really open to adjustments.”
In addition to doing prep work before the game, English was constantly in communication with his coaches and teammates during the game whether it’d be calling out picks or echoing the opponents’ offensive calls to the bench so the coaching staff could diagram what they ran on certain sets. And if Mizzou got burned, the coaches would diagram how to counteract next time. English’s leadership on the floor, combined with the willingness of the players to buy into Haith’s system, is what allowed Mizzou and English personally to have such success this season despite deploying a very small and unconventional lineup.
Unfortunately the season ended in the first round of the NCAA Tournament with a loss to Norfolk State, but English has not stopped playing.
Last week, he attended the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (PIT) in Portsmouth, Virginia. The tournament is held for the nation’s top seniors to give them exposure to NBA scouts one last time before the draft process starts up. Recent PIT participants include Jeremy Lin and Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, but many seniors choose to blow off the event, claiming they don’t need the exposure. English relished the opportunity to compete.
“I felt like I had a pretty good year and I met with some agents who said I didn’t have to go,” English says, “but when I signed with Leon Rose he told me I should go. He said it shows that you like to compete and you are not ducking anything and that you want to put your best foot forward in front of those teams. I know ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is definitely true with a lot of things in life and I didn’t want our first round loss to be the last thing NBA scouts remembered me by. So I was really excited to get down there and compete, play well and meet with some teams. It was a really good decision and I’m thrilled I went.”
NBA teams are likely thrilled English went as well. During the tournament he averaged 18 points per game while playing point guard, yes point guard, for his team. Without a point guard on their roster, English volunteered to play the position so Ashton Gibbs and Juan Fernandez could play in their natural roles off the ball. This decision shows just how high English’s basketball IQ is, going from playing the four all season long to playing point guard on a team he had never played with before.
At one point during the tournament, when his team was struggling to score and stagnant offensively, English called a timeout and drew up a play they ran at Missouri. It got the team a bucket.
Upon leaving Portsmouth, English went back to Missouri to finish up his coursework and continue his training with Tibaldi. However, just like he did this season, much of English’s training involves watching NBA games and studying players in the league. That’s where he plans on being next season.
“Now when I’m watching NBA games, I’m studying,” he says. “I’m learning things I can do offensively and things that teams like to do offensively and I’m learning how I can stop guys defensively. I’m watching it as a student because I definitely plan on being in the league next year.”
How important is it in basketball to watch film?
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