Celtics guard Avery Bradley is already working on improving his game for the 2013-2014 season. He has called upon some hometown help. Fellow Tacoma, Wash. native Chris Hyppa, a veteran high school assistant coach, saw Avery emerge as one of the top high school players in the country while Bradley played three years at Tacoma’s Bellarmine Prep.
Now Hyppa is training Bradley to become one of the best players in the NBA. Hyppa is a WNBA & NBA Skills Trainer. He is the creator of Chris Hyppa Basketball. His mission is to inspire and impact players lives through the game of basketball. He trains thousands of players each year across the country! Recently I had lunch with Chris at a local Tacoma restaurant to talk about Bradley’s improvement as a player and the business of Chris Hyppa Basketball.
Interview: Ty Ray, CLNS Radio On-Air Personality with Chris Hyppa, owner of Chris Hyppa Basketball
Ty: You coached at Stadium High School (Tacoma, WA) and Foss High School (Tacoma, WA) against Avery when he played at Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma. How did you get from watching him play to this point?
Chris: Obviously I want to work with the best and if we have a guy from the NBA that’s from the same town as me it kind of makes sense for me to kind of reach out to him. We never formally ever met where I walked up to him and said “Hey I’m Chris Hyppa, your Avery". We always knew of each other, we were born in the gym, raised in the gym so we’d always known who was who so we never really had to introduce ourselves. It kind of evolved where I worked out for him for the first time and reached out to him. This past offseason is where he reached out to me and wanted to get in the gym, so it’s kind of been a process and like I said the relationship is still evolving.
Ty: What has impressed you the most about Avery’s development from high school to the kid you know today?
Chris: I never truly knew him, knew him – but I’ll say this right now: he is truly a professional. That’s the one thing I take from him. He’s got to be 23, 22-years-old, he’s been in the league for three years and played one year at Texas . For a kid that age to be that mature, that’s the first thing that jumped out at me. He’s very professional with his approach. I think that comes from being with the Celtics’ being around Danny Ainge, Garnett, Paul Pierce year-round -- Ray Allen, you’re going to be professional.
Ty: Hall of Famers!
Chris: Yea, that’s kind of jumped out at me, his professional approach for such a young kid.
Ty: Has he recovered from his two shoulder surgeries in your opinion?
Chris: I don’t think he’s been affected at all. He’s always been a kid that every single year, even going back to 9th grade, every part of his game improves and so looking at his 9th year grade of high school all the way back to his last year at Findlay Prep where he was the number one high school player of the year and then all of a sudden you look at him at Texas and you look at his points per game from his first year to his third year he’s improved every single year. That’s kind of attributed to his work ethic. I can see him being an All-Star, to be an All-Star has kind of been his goal. If he continues to improve, he’s going to work his way into being an All-Star. He’s one of the better athletes in the league right now as far as being able to run from point A to point B, jump, and do this stuff, now as far as getting his skill level on pace to be an All-Star.
Ty: Watching Avery play, such a tenacious defender, second All-Team defensively per play, he allows the least amount of points per play in the league. It’s almost like he takes playing defense personally.
Chris: I think he does too. It’s kind of the mentality he has. I compare him to a pit bull, he’s kind of got the mindset of a pit bull. You don’t want to make a pit bull upset. Pit Bulls are good when you’re nice to them but once you make them upset they can turn on you real quick. He’s got the mindset of a pit bull. It’s easy defensively to turn that one. I’m not saying that doesn’t require a lot of skill because being a good defender does take skill – obviously. It takes more still on the offensive end to make shots, create shots, ball-handling but he has perfected defensively and taken pride in his role around the league as being a stopper and he’s always been like that. You look at 9th, 10th, 11th & 12th grade he’s kind of had that mold and he’s been a stopper and it’s carried on to where he’s one of the better players in the league as a stopper.
Ty: Let’s talk about high school. You coached at Stadium High School and Foss High School. What is it about the Northwest that lends itself to just amazing talent, NBA and basketball talent in general?
Chris: I was talking to some guys about that the other day. Not only do we have talented kids, but to have talented kids they have to be taught, they have be raised and put into an environment that allows them to learn. I think we have a solid base of youth; guys that coach here people that actually look out for kids. No kid is going to go from being four-five years old to going to the league by himself. They have to be nurtured, put in environments. They have to learn, they have to be taught and there are skills they have to acquire. So I think the thing that separates us from different parts is that we have people that actually care about the kids and actually want to see them go on to play college ball and pro basketball and are giving them tools to do it. We have a good core of adults here that actually care about kids.
Ty: Think about the level of talent that has come out of this area: Nate Robinson, Jason Terry, Jamal Crawford, Isaiah Thomas, and Avery Bradley. It really is an amazing area. How does that help you with your business?
Chris: By it being a strong basketball area it means kids are excited to play, so I feel what I’m doing is a bit more unique than what the average guy does for basketball. There’s already an excitement for kids to play, now you give them a chance to train with someone more excited than you are. I think that’s a niche I have right now. I’m not just an average coach where we going to go to the gym and work on stuff. I’m going to challenge these kids mentally; I’m going to challenge them physically. My whole thing is that I want to inspire and impact those kids lives, I want them to leave and become more than they already are and if I can continue to inspire kids that’s going to last longer than me teaching them a left-handed pass or right-handed pass. If I inspire them to go work on their game outside the gym or inspire them to go find what they love to do that’s really my main thing; is trying to help people discuss what they love to do.
Ty: What are people going to get the most out of a Chris Hyppa Basketball camp?
Chris: They’re going to be inspired. Hopefully they can gain a little bit more passion. If I do a camp for two days for eight hours I’m not going to magically change your game. I might be able to help you improve in one area, but I’m going to change your approach. When you leave after eight hours you’re going to be a little bit more passionate about the game. You’re going to be inspired to do a little bit more; you’re just going to have a different approach to your day to day life. My tagline is: to become, you must do. That’s more or less everyone wants to become something, whether that be a fireman, a cop, a teacher, a coach, a pro basketball player. In order to become what you want to become there is actions you’ve got to do and there are steps you’ve got to take. Whether it be to go to school for nine years, whether that means you’ve got to go to the gym every night and make 5,000 shots; whatever that is you’ve got to do that. You have to do something to become, to become you’ve got to do. Passion attracts passion. It’s like the laws of attraction, the vibes you send out in the world are the vibes you’re going to get back and I think if I always display enthusiasm and passion I think I’m going to attract those kind of athletes.
Ty: And you have….
Chris: And I have. Some of the pro athletes I’ve actually worked with, Courtney Vandersloot played at Gonzaga, now the starting point guard for the Chicago Sky (WNBA). We had a chance to work out a lot this past fall. She chose not to play overseas for a little bit and wanted to work on her game. So we got a chance to work three times a week for three months, changed her game, changed her approach and she’s on a very good team this year. We’ve talked about her being one of the top three point guards in the league this year. I’ve also worked with Alex Montgomery, who played at Georgia Tech, who plays with Bill Laimbeer at New York (WNBA). We got a chance to work out three, four times before she went to camp this year. I train a lot of college players from the area and a lot of All-State players from the area. I’m working with a lot of elite type kids.
Ty: Moving forward this summer what’s planned for Chris Hyppa Basketball?
Chris: Summertime plans are everywhere. I’ll be going to Vegas in about a week for a clinic, I’ll be going to Denver June 25 through July 3, be working with an AAU team holding some private stuff with kids in town there. I’m going to Arkansas July 15 through 21, I’ll be running two camps there. On the back end there I’ll be working in Memphis and then I leave for Hudson, Massachusetts August 1 though 2 and I’m going to be running an elite youth camp. I’ll run a private team camp at Hudson High and I run an elite high school camp on the back end there but I’ll get a chance to spend two, three days in Boston in between, which I actually planned, so I’ll be there three days in between to network and hopefully get in the gym with guys there too.
Ty: While we’re talking Boston, do you want to break any Celtics’ news for us?
Chris: Any Celtics news? I don’t think I have any Celtics concrete news, I know this for a fact: Avery Bradley will be a very improved basketball player.
Ty: Thanks Chris.
Chris: You bet.