Wright Busching, a 25-year-old Jackson Academy alum, was recently named head coach of the Jackson Showboats, the city’s new American Basketball Association franchise. The Showboats’ regular season starts in November, and will run between 25 and 30 games. The team will practice and play at least some of its home games at the Mississippi Basketball and Athletics facility in Northeast Jackson.
Q — Tell our readers about yourself. What’s your basketball background?
A — To start, I played high school basketball for Bill Ball at Jackson Academy. Coach Ball was a great person to learn from because he had extensive experience at the collegiate level, particularly in the SEC when he was an assistant coach at Mississippi State. He ran (and still runs) the basketball program at JA like it was a college program. Even though I did not play in college, I still feel like I experienced college basketball from an Xs and Os standpoint and from the amount of effort and commitment that was required to be a part of a first-class program.
I attended the University of Mississippi for undergrad, where I majored in history with minors in business and English. I graduated Phi Beta Kappa and won a Taylor Medal in Liberal Arts. After graduating from the University of Mississippi in May of 2008, I accepted a job as the graduate assistant for the men’s basketball program at Jackson State University. Following that first season, which I spent in a basketball operations role, I was promoted to the position of assistant coach, becoming the youngest full-time NCAA Division 1 assistant in the country at 22. For the past three seasons I have been involved in all aspects of running a Division 1 program, including recruiting, on-floor coaching, individual skill development, opponent scouting, scheduling, travel coordination, NCAA compliance, fundraising, and academic monitoring.
Additionally, I have become increasingly interested in advanced basketball metrics. I’m sure that many of your
readers have read the book Moneyball or seen the movie based on the book. Basketball has also undergone a statistical revolution in the past 10-15 years, although no story has been told well enough to make it to the big screen and be nominated for an Oscar. Despite the difficulty encountered in correctly valuing certain aspects of a basketball game (baseball is much easier to value), a number of people have successfully identified new statistics that are revolutionizing the way that we think about the game. Basketball on Paper, written by Dean Oliver, has been referred to as the “Moneyball of basketball” and is a great read for anyone who is interested in understanding basketball and learning about statistics that are more important than simple points, rebounds and assists. Kenpom.com, 82 games.com, and Synergy sports are also at the forefront of the statistical revolution in basketball and are resources that I spend a lot of time studying.
Q — Your season starts in November. What do you do between now and then?
A — First, and most importantly, we will continue to raise awareness about our organization. We need to make sure that the community knows who we are and what we are doing in Jackson. That means we will be involved with as many media, community service and metro area events as possible between now and November. We are the city’s team. We are here to serve the city, to honor the city’s strong basketball heritage, and to make the city proud. We want the community to know who we are and know that this franchise is invested in this city beyond what happens on the court
The next thing that we have to do is continue to make connections within the business community and build partnerships that will enable us to put an exciting product on the floor.
We also have to begin taking care of the operational side of the organization. Finalizing the schedule, making travel arrangements, coordinating workouts and practice schedules, and taking care of any other organizational business is important on the front end to make sure that things run smoothly as the season approaches.
Throughout the entire process we will also be conducting tryouts and attending exposure camps to finalize our roster.
Q — Where does your roster stand as far as being filled out? Any names Mississippi basketball fans would recognize?
A — We have six players that are tentatively on the roster. Dietric Slater, the former Mississippi State and Wayne County star, is probably the most notable of the bunch, but the roster should end up with a strong Mississippi flavor.
As the summer moves along, we are looking to get 18 to 20 players for an initial training camp in September. We will then try to narrow the roster down to 12 to 14 players for our official training camp that will start in October.
Q — What type of player are you looking for? For example, players who were invited to an NBA camp and were released? Players trying to make it to the NBA?
A — Our number one goal for our players is that they use this opportunity with the ABA to move their careers forward. We hope that they will receive enough exposure that opportunities from the NBA Developmental League, overseas, and the NBA will present themselves during or after the season.
That being said, we want the best players that we can find. Obviously, players who have been to NBA camps or have experience overseas would be great options, but we are willing to look at all players that are interested in order to make sure that we put together the best roster that we can.
Q — What kind of partnerships will the organization need to develop with the Jackson business community to be successful?
A — Our organization will need to cultivate partnerships that are equally as beneficial for the businesses that we affiliate with as they are for the Jackson Showboats organization. We cannot succeed if we do not have relationships that last.
and the only way to ensure that relationships with the business community last is to offer real value in partnering with our organization. We also have to develop innovative approaches to these business partnerships that help provide value to our partners. We want to be outside-the-box and cutting edge in how we create value. When our partners win, we win, and the city of Jackson wins. Therefore, we want to search out new partnership models that create maximal benefit for all stakeholders. Ultimately, businesses that really care about the city of Jackson and desire to see community-oriented companies excel and see the cynicism of the past that has plagued new business and community development die off are the people that we are looking for.
We are open to all opportunities and will listen to any suggestions that businesses and individuals have about our organization and professional basketball in Jackson. Understanding that the development of a professional sports team involves constant communication between the city and its constituents and the leaders of the organization is extremely important. Basically, we want everyone in the city, and especially those businesses that we eventually partner with, to know that we want their input and want them to be involved in the entire process.
Q — Where does that process stand?
A — Several partnerships with Jackson-based businesses are already in the process of being finalized. We will continue to target businesses that we not only believe can help our organization, but also can benefit tremendously from the success and growth of professional basketball in Jackson. Additionally, we will meet with anyone who contacts us and expresses a desire to be involved with this process on any level. We do not want to leave any stone unturned or potential relationship unexplored.