On this week of The Edge, we talk with Johnny Carpenter, the Director of Player Personnel for the University of Virginia men’s basketball team. Johnny tells us about his role on the UVA basketball staff, what technology they use as a team, and how video has evolved over the years in basketball. Johnny tells some great stories from his coaching career, from writing a handwritten note to Rick Carlisle, head coach of the Dallas Mavericks to eventually working for Rick a year later. 

We also touched on Johnny’s experience working with Slovakia’s Under 18 team in Macedonia, and of course, he gave us an inside look into Virginia’s magical national championship run last year.

Podcast Highlights

6:02: – Johnny’s start in a career in basketball: “I didn’t really have high level interest in basketball from colleges to play at the next level so I came to UVA to pursue more academics, but how could I get involved in sports was always a big question.”

9:52 – A thank you letter to Rick Carlisle that led to a job with the Dallas Mavericks: “We ended up connecting and developing a relationship over time. Later that summer, it turned into a job opportunity with the Mavs.”

12:50 – Working with Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler, Rajon Rondo: “You see these guys who are just elite in what they do. People say, Oh, this guy can’t shoot, but it’s like, no, he can, he can really shoot. It’s just that’s not his role.”

15:43 – Technology helping to build player coach relationships: “You can get into this more of the qualitative stuff of, he’s leaning this way on his misses. Then players can start building that relationship with coaches about basketball because players care how much time you invest.”

17:00 – Player coach relationships: “With a player coach relationship, it’s all about sweat equity. I think that’s how Kenny Atkinson with the Nets describes it. Nobody cares how much you know, unless they know how much you care and the way you do that is by investing in players.”

21:10 – University of Virginia’s 2019 Championship Run: “The thing that sticks out to me the most during that time is by far, and not to sound cliche, but the actual process, of our staff and our players about handling adversity.”

25:09 – 2019 Elite 8 Purdue vs Virginia Recap: “It was like a heavyweight boxing fight where they’re just clobbering, just right hook, left hook, right hook, left hook.” 

28:00 – Changes in UVA Men’s Basketball recruiting after Championship: “I think the championship went a long way to validate everything that was built. I think this world is built on perception, especially social media, and unfortunately perception can become reality.”

32:58 – Technology used for the UVA Men’s Basketball: “If you come here, you are going to have every tool at your disposal, but it ultimately is up to you. Are you going to be the one to take advantage of all the different things around you to maximize your potential and grow that base?”

36:33 – Coaching Slovakia’s U18 team: It’s the game that people love and you’re able to bond over this basketball and be able to share. And it’s unbelievable. It’s just amazing. It shows the transcendent nature of sports and just how you can truly be impactful all over.”

41:27 – Recruiting players during COVID: “Content is King during this, especially with this generation through Instagram and everything like that, you got to find ways to resonate with your recruits. Graphics are huge. So any type of personalized graphic for some of your top guys is always big.”

48:12 – Johnny’s advice in pursuing a career in basketball: “You have to find a way to differentiate yourself. I think film is the way in and it’s going to always be the way in. Especially as technology continues to advance, everybody needs to know, every staff needs to have access and needs them to have someone who can break down film of some kind.”

52:15 – Best shooters Johnny has ever coached at Virginia: “I think Kyle Guy had a very natural stroke. That’s just impressive. His shot was effortless, but you think of the year Malcolm Brogdon had. I think he had a 40, 50, 90 year recently. You think Joe Harris, NBA three point shooting champion and I mean, De’Andre Hunter shot the cover off the ball for his two years at UVA.”

58:18 – Toughest home arena to play in College: “Louisville’s fans, they get that place rocking. It’s a wild atmosphere. I mean, there’s 20,000 people in there and everybody from bottom to the top is screaming their heads off.”