AHS grad balls out – Q&A with Justin Zormelo
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With basketball season in full swing we tend to look back at past players who have made it in the world. One former player in the spotlight is AHS alumni Justin Zormelo. He played for the AHS varsity basketball team from 2001 to 2002. Zormelo has played basketball since he was five years old and has progressed as a child and got better and better everyday. He went to Georgetown University and worked as the manager for the Georgetown Hoyas basketball team.
“I started playing basketball at the age of five with the Annandale Boys & Girls Club,” Zormelo said. “During elementary school, I played in the Catholic Youth League (CYO) for St. Michael, Alexandria All Stars and other AAU select teams. We played all over Virginia, in Indiana and Las Vegas.”
During Zormelo’s high school days, Annandale was full of different people.
“Annandale’s diversity was a great preparation for the real world,” Zormelo said. “I was in classes with students and teachers from a lot of different cultures, religion and economic backgrounds.”
Zormelo’s background on the varsity basketball team at AHS trained him to train others into becoming basketball phenoms.
The way Zormelo trains his athletes is unlike any other trainer has done before. Zormelo analyzes statistics to increase individual player performances. His focus on stats separates him from other trainers.
He is the founder of Best Ball Analytics, which helps not only professionals, but also college and even high school athletes work on their game. He has worked with different NBA stars like Kevin Durant, Andrew Wiggins, Dwayne Wade and many more.
“Obviously he’s pretty well respected because he’s working out with a lot of famous players and he’s taken something and really doing something unique that other trainers may not be doing,” Zormelo’s former coach Patrick Hughes said. “I’m sure he’s doing a good job.”
Zormelo does many different things while working with players.
“Depending on clients, I can be doing on the court training, scouting, preparing analysis, consulting with players on development plan, strategizing for next game and opponents, etc,” Zormelo said.
Zormelo started out like many student athletes, working on athletics and academics at the same time, which led him to work with some of the greatest players in NBA history.
Q&A with Justin Zormelo
Q: What were your earliest experiences with basketball?
A: I started playing basketball at the age of five with the Annandale Boys & Girls Club. During elementary school, I played in the Catholic Youth League (CYO) for St. Michael, Alexandria All Stars and other AAU select teams. We played all over Virginia, in Indiana and Las Vegas. It was amazing to find myself playing in high school and AAU teams with and against my teammates going back to my first Boys & Girls Club team of five year olds. Looking back I also remember that some of the players my AAU teams played against were JJ Reddick, Jarrett Jack and Carmelo Anthony.
Q: Who were some NBA players or other influential people that you looked up to? Do you still look up to these people?
A: I loved Larry Bird. He was a complete team player who could shoot and worked hard every minute he was on the court. I also admired the Dream Team and had cut outs of all the players on my bedroom wall. Other influential people basketball wise thus far have been John Thompson III and his father, Shaquille O’Neal, Shawn Marion, Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra and of course Kevin Durant today. Every chance I get, I watch tapes of old games of the Dream Team.
Q: What do you remember the most about AHS?
A: Annandale’s diversity was a great preparation for the real world. I was in classes with students and teachers from a lot of different cultures, religion and economic backgrounds. We all came together as a community during classes, school activities and sports.
Q: How did your experience playing for Annandale impact you?
A: As a point guard for the varsity team, I learned to recognize how and when to get my teammates the ball so that they could score. I also understood that playing defense was the other half of the game. You have to play both ends of the court in order to get a win! We weren’t a big team in the middle, so we had to work hard for our shots. In life you have to work hard no matter what — especially after you get a shot.
Q: What made you interested in statistics?
A: I have always had an aptitude for math, so it was second nature for me to look at plays and players and analyze the patterns and statistics behind these. Couple this with my knowledge of basketball and I was able to develop ways statistics can be utilized in developing and helping players improve at all levels including high school, college, international and NBA.
Q: What made you realize that you could connect statistics with basketball?
A: Whenever I played, watched college or NBA basketball, I was always keen to look at statistics such as points per game, per possession, assists, etc. I didn’t just stop with just what the numbers were, I wanted to know what the numbers or statistics meant and how it could be used to improve and get players to excel.
Q: What is Best Ball Analytics and what made you create it?
A: It represents playing your best ball, what to do to play your best ball and how analytics can be adapted to help players play their best ball. Visit my website at bestballanalytics.com to learn more.
Q: Describe what your job is like.
A: My job varies depending on each client. What is consistent is my working 12 to 16 hours a day and being on the road constantly.
Q: What is an average workday for you?
A: An average work day for me can be 12 to 16 hours of work. Depending on clients – I can be doing on the court training, scouting, preparing analysis, consulting with players on development plan, strategizing for next game and opponents, etc.
Q: Did you ever get used to your job or is it still a big deal when you meet famous NBA players?
A: Every player is unique, so I have to treat each client as their own individual. I am still in awe of those very talented and fortunate players who have made it to the pinnacle of basketball – The NBA. To be able to work with players of that caliber there has to be mutual respect and trust between us in order to achieve our objectives.
Q: Is there a certain player that you enjoy working with? Who is it and why?
A: Kevin Durant is someone I enjoy working with. He works real hard and is always looking to get better. He is not just content on being a star, he works to be the best.
Q: What advice would you give to high school students who love basketball and would want to turn their love of basketball into a career?
A: Get the best education you can. Participate in the game in any way you can, including volunteering. Pursue any opportunities you hear about with passion and perseverance. When you hit an obstacle, use it as a learning experience and a chance to re-direct. Dream on, dream often and dream big, always work hard and open doors for yourself when they are closed.