How he got here: Sean Mobley

VCU freshman Sean Mobley has been turning heads this season with his ability to create opportunities unseen to the average eye. Freshman mistakes aside, he has displayed an incredible court vision that is very unique for a player of his size. This is nothing new to Sean’s father, Bill Mobley, who watched his son sit in front of the television at a very young age and break down team play.

If you follow VCU basketball on Twitter, you will inevitably run across Bill Mobley, Sean’s biggest advocate. He’s one of the most involved player parents we’ve seen since the beloved Burgess family. But it’s much different, he’s more of a coach. We caught up with Bill to get the full scoop on how Sean got to this point.

Bill and his wife Michelle (who is a marathoner, trainer, and a nutritionist) coached Sean through 3rd grade until they handed over the reins to a string of highly respected coaches in the central Florida region. Living in close proximity to University of Central Florida, Bill would take the kids to games, sitting in floor seats acquired through his job. Through a series of events, Sean drew the eye of the UCF team and staff (including one moment in 5th grade where Sean would square up with a 6’3″ college student during a halftime crowd participation event). He and his younger brother Zach would eventually become UCF team tag-alongs, gaining exposure to organized basketball culture. This was just the beginning.

The Mobley family did what was necessary to give Sean and Zach the best opportunity to thrive in basketball. They moved to Merritt Island and ended up sending Sean to McNair Magnet School, a school with a great basketball program. It allowed Sean to play for Ed “Fuzzy” Jones, who made sure Sean was successful and comfortable being a minority. Sean, like many kids today, was colorblind to his surroundings. Coach Fuzzy had a barber shop called “Afro-City Barber Shop” in Cocoa, Florida where Sean and his teammates would spend time in the back room doing homework and hanging out. McNair Magnet would win a district championship and championship with Sean as the first “white” co-captain.

Bill Mobley eventually formed a travel league, called Brevard Elite, so that Sean and others like him could continue playing organized basketball in the spring and summer. With an Adidas sponsorship and the blessing of each middle school principal in the county, the Mobleys put together a group that ran travel teams from 3rd to 8th grade up and down the east coast. Bill and his wife Michelle put together a program that taught its players like a college program would, with similar practice techniques and life skills / college prep training. Fulfilling the original mission of the group, all 100% of the players on the original team went on to college to play basketball or football on scholarship. Sean would benefit from living within this program, at home and on the court.

Sean went on to Florida Air Prep on scholarship for 2 years. Bill was again involved and became a program supporter, putting in a training room and working on mental toughness with the players. Sean would be a 2 year starter for the program, winning all districts, making it to a state final, and picking up a verbal from Billy Donovan (before Billy took the gig at OKC). Sean capped off his last two years at Montverde, where he was eventually a co-captain of the team which was named “High School Team of the Decade” by USAToday.

Sean Mobley picked up over 50 offers from schools around the country. He chose VCU. But that was when Will Wade was head coach. New VCU head coach Mike Rhoades quickly paid a visit with his staff. When asked why Sean chose to stay with VCU, his father says “he seemed to have come from the VCU legacy … the Shaka crew”, so he decided to stay. Once the decision was made, Sean called up Rhoades, where the now famous “Ram Nation or No Nation” phrase just rolled off the tongue.

Last week after the Duquesne game, Coach Rhoades said of Sean Mobley “he’s got such a great basketball IQ”, “At the end of the game they went small. I said we need to get Sean in there, he said ‘no coach, that’s the right 5 out there.’ Kids like that, that’s how you impact winning and you build a program the right way.” As you’d expect, Bill said that moment made he, his wife, and his son Zach, extremely proud. Though, they are familiar with hearing praise from all of his prior coaches, those words, right now, are a reminder of the great pride they have in all of the work he’s done. It’s a reminder of the times he would sit in front of the TV at a young age, and break down team play.

You can follow Bill on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/bballcoach1963, a page which is full of Sean and Zach Mobley updates, and some good, sound basketball commentary.

If you have an Insider subscription, you can read the full Q&A which was the basis for this article here. It’s full of many details which were left out of this story, over 2,500 words on Sean’s development, decision to stay at VCU, and much more.

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