Jeremy Russotti has trained high school basketball players who have been McDonald’s All-Americans and gone on to the NCAA Division I college and professional ranks.
But the Windsor resident’s 1% Club Basketball Services company has begun training players from the ground up, too.
In conjunction with the Napa Valley Basketball Alliance, and with Marin Catholic High School girls JV head coach Steiv Boyd in charge as skills director, 1% Club is coming to Napa’s Redwood Middle School to teach hoop skills to kindergartners through 12th-graders.
There will be a free skills and conditioning clinic Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., then a six-week paid series of training classes on Sundays from Jan. 29 through March 4.
The cost is $115 for students in grades K-5, and $135 for grades 6-12 for the six-week class.
Local coaches, teams and parents are welcome to observe the free clinic.
“I went my whole career (as a trainer) without running one camp,” Russotti said last week. “I wouldn’t train middle school or high school kids. I’d only train college players. My goal was always to train NBA guys. I was trying to get my name out there and I didn’t want my name to be associated with young kids. But I watched my friends do it and have a lot of success. I’ve been building this curriculum and I know what it can do for kids.”
The curriculum was developed by Russsoti in partnership with Nike’s Alan Stein — see www.strongerteam.com — and involves advanced pylometric and specialized equipment training used by NBA players.
Napa Valley Basketball Alliance is a local nonprofit youth development organization that builds local teams for competitive basketball and facilitates training and education opportunities in coordination with local schools, coaches, and youth organizations. As hosts of 1% Club’s free clinic and classes, NVBA will assist in training and sign up players for its spring teams and refer new and returning players to other teams.
Russotti, a married father of a 6-year-old son and daughters ages 10 and 19 months, has been a physical education teacher at Healdsburg Junior High School for 12 years. A 1993 graduate of Analy High School in Sebastopol, he was the head coach of the varsity boys basketball program at Casa Grande High School in Petaluma from 1999-00 through 2002-03.
He left the Casa Grande post to continue training two players who had starred for the Gauchos during his stint and went on to play on NCAA Division I scholarships — Angelo Tsagarakis (Oregon State and Cal Poly) and Josh Akognon (Washington State and Cal State Fullerton).
Akognon went on to play professionally in Estonia and China.
He is still playing in China but hopes to sign with an NBA team next season.
Tsagarakis has been playing professionally in his native France since 2008.
Russotti and his two prize pupils referred to themselves as the 1% Club because they felt that was the portion of basketball players who trained as many hours as they did, and Russotti adopted the term for his business.
Russotti now trains college and professional prospects with his Green Room Training program, named after the room where players wait to have their names called during the NBA draft.
Over the years, Russotti has seen the need for more high-level basketball talent in the Wine Country.
“I can count the Division I (NCAA basketball) athletes who have come out of Sonoma County in the last 40 or 50 years on one hand,” he said. “But Josh showed it can happen here, for anybody. If it wasn’t for me finding him, he never would have played at all.”
Russotti said there will be two more six-Sunday classes at Redwood Middle School — March 18 through April 22, and May 6 through June 10.
“Basketball skills are one of the hardest to develop; you can’t expect to master them in one year. It takes a good five to seven years of training to be an elite player, and you may not see major changes for three to five years. It’s helpful if kids get the concepts at a young age.
“We lower the hoops so kids can have lot of success early on,” he said.
There is no limit to how many kids, parents and coaches can attend this Sunday’s free clinic. But for the six-week class, Russotti said each age group will be limited to 25 participants.
The overflow from each group will be put on a waiting list for the next round of classes at Redwood, March 18 through April 22.
Russotti said he will be at Sunday’s free clinic in Napa, but will turn things over to Boyd for the paid classes after that.
Russotti is in Henderson, Nev., today to watch one of his trainees and the top high school boys basketball recruit in the country, Bishop Gorman senior Shabazz Mohammad, and his Gaels host rival Findlay Prep, ranked No. 6 in the nation by ESPN.
This past Monday at the Spalding Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass., Mohammad’s 37 points led Bishop Gorman past ESPN’s No. 5 team, Dematha Catholic of Maryland, and Findlay Prep stunned ESPN’s No. 1 team, Simeon Catholic of Chicago.
Russotti has invented equipment that improves shooting and ball handling, and said it will be used to train sixth- through 12th-graders in Napa.