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Super Shooters in Soph Class Talk Training Methods
by Andrew Force, Future150 (12:33 AM CT, Fri November 21, 2014)
Johnson (left) trains with his retired NBA father
Johnson (left) trains with his retired NBA father
Andrew Force
Andrew Force:

Future150 National Analyst. Covering High and Middle School basketball.

Birmingham, AL (Future150) -- Sometimes we forget that shooters made basketball.  Sure dunks exploded its popularity in the 1980’s, but the shooters give it depth.  They round out the game of roundball with range.  The three point line made the game infinitely more complex and interesting. 

These are the marksmen to watch in the coming years.

The Class of 2017 has some magical shooters.  There might not be a better high school shooter than Mitchell Ballock regardless of class.   Kansas University and Bill Self already offered the volume scorer out of Eudora, Kansas. What a wonderful three-point competition Ballock versus Missourian Michael Porter Jr. would be?  Porter Jr. is not your traditional shooting guard, as he stands 6’8”.  Still, he is remarkable in rhythm. 

“He almost never misses,” said MoKan AAU Coach Jim Huber.  “We have had a lot of good players come through our program and I am not sure I have ever seen anyone as far along at this age as Michael.”


Porter gets the ball a little out of his face when he shoots.  With very long, gangly arms he exhibits fantastic mechanics.  It can be incredibly difficult for guys his size to develop complex shooting motions.  His is simple and beautiful.

“Credit really goes to his parents,” said Coach Huber.   “They worked on teaching him the right way.  He spent a lot of time developing his shooting form the right way with them.”

Porter’s father, Michael Porter Sr. serves as an Assistant Coach for University of Missouri women’s basketball.  When his mother, formerly Lisa Becker, was playing high school ball in Cedar Rapids, Iowa she averaged 58 ppg. 

It is hard to fight your genetic gifts and Porter Jr. is flourishing with both nature and nurture on his side.

Another young talent with a professional basketball pedigree is Birmingham resident Jamal Johnson.  Son of NBA veteran Buck Johnson, Johnson said he spends a lot of time training with family members.

Wise move.

“I learned a lot from my dad,” said Johnson.  “He is a good shooter.”

How invaluable is having unlimited private lessons from a former NBA player…for free?  The level of instruction Johnson receives must be top notch.  Decades of instruction found a home in his father’s head.  Now the veteran can funnel it back to his son.  According to a former AAU coach the young Johnson is extremely coachable and soaks everything in very quickly.

One of Jamal’s favorite drills is three guys-one ball. 

“We have a passer, a shooter, and a rebounder, and then switch spots.”

Johnson is not a pure shooter because he can drive just as well.  The powerful guard lifts weights furiously.  Anyone who has ever lifted arms knows that shooting can be awkward afterwards.

“After lifting weight I shoot from really close range to get stretched out,” said Johnson.  “Then once I get my touch back I start to back it up slowly.”

Johnson and his high school team have a wonderful squad.  Austin Wiley (Future150 #10) suits up in the same Spain Park High School jersey as Johnson.  Their dominant season has started off 4-0.

Kid of Coach

Though his father did not play in the NBA, Connor McCaffery definitely grew up and continues to grow up around the game.  Son of University of Iowa Head Basketball Coach Fran McCaffery, Connor buries buckets with ease. 

McCaffery shoots left-handed and a touch low.  The release point needs to get up above his head.  Consistency is not an issue though.  The youngster can drain them.

As long as Coach Fran keeps his job at Iowa Connor is verbally committed to the Big 10 school.  College coaching can be a fickle business, but based on the recent results Coach McCaffery is more likely to leave for a school of his choosing than being fired.  Recruiting and postseason success suggest he might be settling in to the Iowa job.

This means Iowa will almost certainly sign the young McCaffery to a scholarship in the fall of 2016.

While McCaffery wants to follow his father to Iowa, Philip Flory will not follow his father’s path to Marquette.  Just last week Flory re-opened up his recruitment after being verbally committed to Marquette for the last year. 

Flory initially committed to Buzz Williams, now at Virginia Tech.  The shooter will have many options and played well this past summer with Wisconsin Playground Elite.  He has a very quick trigger.  The team he played on played him on the ball quite a bit, but Flory is a tremendous catch and shoot guy.  He will be best alongside a penetrating point guard.

Gym Rat

The one thing all members of this list have in common is work ethic.  They put in the time on their craft.  Game time is merely a showcase for the hundreds of previous hours in the workshop. 

Representing Louisville, DeVon Cooper trains with mentor Dion Lee.  Coach Lee played at Northwestern, but currently resides in Louisville. 

“I have worked with him and been with him from the time he actually moved to Kentucky,” said Coach Lee.  We started from the basics, form shooting.”

Cooper dropped 38 points on perennial city power Jeffersontown last year.  As a freshman.  According to Lee, Cooper converted 7-9 from beyond the arc in the contest. 

That was a freshman’s hot night.

“He put in the necessary work to become a great shooter,” said Lee. 

Cooper and Lee run through  an assortment of drills. 

“We do a lot of one dribble pull up,” said Lee.  “We do off the bounce.  The most consistent thing is repetitive form shooting.  We use the lane line and make 25.  Step back.  Make 25. Free throw line, make 25.  We do that all over the floor before we even get into the drills.”

Another hard working young man lives out in Las Vegas. 

Greg Floyd Jr. can really shoot the cover off the ball,” said Las Vegas Knicks Head Coach Lamar Bigby.  “Greg is going to be a ‘Top 50’ guy.”

Next week Floyd’s high school coach is expecting Oregon State and Auburn in to evaluate.  Arizona and California have already evaluated this month.  Both Fresno State and Colorado State have offered the Class of 2017 sharpshooter.

Like Porter Jr., Floyd Jr. is very tall for the position.  He stands 6’8” and has some handle.  

Another Jamal was able to make the list of best shooting guards in the Class of 2017.  Jamal Nixon was spectacular all summer with the respected Illinois Wolves’ outfit. 

Nixon is starting for his second straight year on Oak Park Fenwick High School (former home of Corey Maggette).  This spring he will likely see time with the Illinois Wolves 17u squad. 

“You have to be a pretty special player to do that,” said Wolves Head Coach Mike Mullins.  “You also have to be physically ready.  I think Jamal Nixon will both of those things.”

Nixon does not have a particular position, but does everything well including shooting. 

Coach Mullins develops the whole player and elects not to give young athletes a position.  He prefers to improve the shooting, handling, rebounding, passing, and defending throughout the early teens. 

“I think that if you can do those as your body and mind advance you develop the whole basketball player,” said Coach Mullins. 

Coach Mullins played a large part in the development of all-around guards Evan Turner (Boston Celtics) and Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State frosh).


From the expansive list of exceptional shooters it is clear shooters come in many different sizes.  From 6’8” talents like Porter Jr. and Floyd Jr. to power guards like Nixon and Johnson to a pure shooter like Ballock, McCaffery, Flory, or Cooper.

Being the son of a professional hooper doesn’t hurt, but there are no shortcuts in life.  Greatness takes time.  It takes hours and hours of technically sound practice. 

It all pays off when the ball splashes through the bottom of the net.


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