NABC Next Generation is an interview series with assistant coaches and support staff from across the country, highlighting their career experiences and future goals. Today's feature is Drake University assistant coach Dave Buchanan.
What led you to pursue a career in college basketball coaching/administration?
"When I was very young I developed a passion for basketball. I loved to play the game, and as I grew older my interest in the details of the game as well as following college basketball increased with each passing year. As I completed my high school career and entered college, I knew I wanted to coach. I was anxious, and at the age of 25 I was a high school boys varsity basketball coach and physical education instructor. The passion to coach at the college level developed as my career progressed."
As a young professional in the industry, what key decisions and experiences helped get you where you are today?
"I’m actually somewhat new to Division I (four years), but have been fortunate to have coached at the high school level, Division III, II, and I. Along the way, key decisions for me involved stretching my overall growth by taking risks to gain valuable experience in coaching basketball. I’ve learned a lot from my former players at all levels, as well as coaches that I’ve competed against and worked with along the way. The most valuable experience for me has been coaching student-athletes at various levels and abilities. It has given me great perspective and appreciation for players across all levels of the NCAA."
What are the most important skills for young professionals in the industry to possess, and which are often overlooked?
"There are two skills that I believe are vital for professionals in our industry to possess - especially with how players expect to be coached, and the relationships that are necessary for sustained success at the college level. The first is Emotional Intelligence. Emotional Intelligence is so important when coaching a game and administrating a practice. The patience and perspective that comes with this skill is also valuable when working with players that have a wide range of experiences that you inherit in your program."
"The second is Self Awareness. The best leaders are self-aware human beings, and they are completely comfortable showing their human side to their players and staff. It also allows a coaching staff to build a strong connection with the players in the program. That vulnerability and authentic approach can build amazing team chemistry and culture, and allows a program to grow and continually get better."
"Both are so often overlooked, but yet so important on a daily basis for a basketball program on and off the court."
Why is developing mentor relationships so important to young coaches, and who have been your most influential mentors?
"Mentor relationships are very important. Many young coaches get into the profession with and idea of what coaching and teaching is all about. Because of their inexperience, that “idea” is usually far from what is true and what goes into working in the profession. Mentors have the opportunity to share their experiences and how they’ve learned from them. They also have the opportunity to model master coaching behaviors for young coaches in the profession."
"There is no question that my high school basketball coach has been my most influential mentor in my career. Eli Crogan took an interest in me at a young age, and helped me to develop a vision, work ethic, and plan for what I wanted to be. He held me accountable, and many times took interest in me when I least expected it. He continued his communication with me after my high school career and served as a mentor long after my playing days for him. To this day, his influence has guided me down the right path."
What professional competencies are you working to develop at this stage of your career?
"Currently I’m working hard to absorb the ever-changing trends in how the game is played. Observing the international game, and the changes that teams are making at the collegiate and professional levels in style of play and pace of the game. Also, trying to expand my recruiting network to different regions of the United States and in Europe. Now more than ever, players are willing to go a long way from home to play in college."
What career goals do you have for your future, and how do you plan to achieve them?
"I’d like to become a head college coach again. With seven years of head college coaching experience, I’d enjoy leading a program again someday. My plan is to continue to meet fellow coaches and administrators that share the same philosophy on working with and serving student-athletes. I have confidence that when the right fit presents itself, I’ll know."
What is one thing about the profession that you wish you knew earlier in your career?
"There are many of things I wish I knew earlier in my career that I know today, so it’s hard to narrow down. However, sometimes it’s best not to know. Then you are more likely to take risks, dive in, and learn. So I truly have no regrets. I’ve learned that quality knows no level, and I’ve learned just as much from my high school players and coaches as I’ve learned from players and coaches at the Division I level. Each experience on my path has truly been a valuable learning opportunity."