Q&A with Bill Mobley [INSIDER]
We recently reached out to Sean Mobley’s father, Bill, to put together a story on Sean. Bill returned us a wealth of information (over 2,500 words) on Sean’s upbringing, his decision to stay at VCU after Wade left, and some of his thoughts on the team and season thus far. Some great material for those with an Insider subscription. If you have a subscription, hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Did you coach any of Sean’s teams as he was growing up? What has your involvement in his development looked like?
Yes, and this first one is a little long but kinda of cool story.
Sean and his younger brother Zach (16 yrs) were identifiable athletes from 1st grade on. Their mom (Michele – who was a die hard marathoner, body-sculpting pro, a nutritionist) and I coached them in the YMCA leagues in basketball, baseball and flag football until they hit 3rd grade where Sean was coached on a basketball team by Joel Glass VP of Orlando Magic. His basketball talent started to standout and his IQ would become noticeable as he would sit on the floor and actually breakdown team play on ESPN. Literally.
We lived two blocks away from UCF, my business hired allot of students at the time, donated back so we got great floor seats at the Basketball and Football games. The boys attended Kirk Sperew’s basketball camps and had a connection with the players (as we sat right on top of the floor) which grew to a moment in time that unified Sean’s relationship with the UCF team and staff. In fifth grade, new arena, halftime students were selected for a game of horse out of the crowd for a $1000 credit at the bookstore. Sean very excitedly, kept waving his hand, the mascot kept walking past him as he needed UCF students, until the crowd started booing the mascot for not taking the kid. Ultimately gave in to crowd pressure and selected Sean to play against these much older/bigger kids. Needless to say, Sean had the crowd on its feet, going nuts, UCF team and staff had returned from locker room half, heard cheering, tv cameras rolling…to see Sean and a 6.3ft kid battling it out as the final two. At the end, the student dunks the ball, knowing Sean couldnt follow….crowd erupts in anger, Sean shakes his hand and goes and sits down, to the loudest ovation and all the local TV highlights that night. At that single point in time, for the next year Sean and Zach were the UCF basketball team tag along’s. They were both exposed to allot of UCF and Orlando Magic games, players, and basketball culture.
The following year our school district was re-zoned, the local high school was unfavorable, so we saw an opportunity to move to the east coast to live on the water. We did so in Merritt Island with better schools, not really any organized basketball programs. In fact, we visited the local YMCA and Sean was way over skilled even for the older teams and was frowned upon, as they were more like teaching environments vs competitive. Following some research we heard about Cocoa, one city over, learned that the local middle school was known for long history of championship basketball, yet was out of our district and located in a predominantly African-american neighborhood. We met with the coach Ed “Fuzzy” Jones, who sent us to the local rec center to see if he could withstand true street-ball against a 100% black culture of players. 11 year old Sean was the only caucasian person in the building (except me), of players ranging from 14-18 years of age, where not only did he hold his own but thrived because it was a level of basketball IQ Sean was starving for. As an 11 yr old, Sean played all summer on a AAU team with the 14-16 year olds which maybe lost 2 games out of 60.
With a technicality in our favor, the middle school called McNair Magnet School had a program not offered in our zone and therefore qualified him to attend. Sean doesnt see color, and everyday walked after school with his new teammates to Afro-City barber shop (Coach Fuzzy’s biz) where in the backroom the boys did their homework until being loaded up in Fuzzy’s truck to go back to McNair for practice. Needless to say McNair Middle won the championship that year and district championship the following, where Sean was the only white captain of their historically winning basketball teams/programs ever to this date.
During those 7th and 8th seasons, I privately met with Coach Fuzzy and post season developed Brevard Elite travel basketball, so we could keep playing the kids in the Spring and Summer. We wanted to do it differently than anyone, so we went to each middle school principal in the county (teams we played and asked to have their best players, with promise we would never scalp them from their schools). I got a Adidas sponsorship, assembled more coaches and ran teams from 3rd to 8th grade. Brevard Elite wasn’t about playing local AAU events, we traveled to Virginia, North Carolina over to KY/Tenn and south to New Orleans, and all states in that quadrant. Sean and his teammates in the 7th and 8th grade seasons instantly competed for championships in each state, winning most. Why, because we trained them like college players….a) trained 1st hour of practice without a ball… drills, ladders, plyometrics, and bleachers…the trainer Mrs Mobley. b) Mental, how to overcome frustration and manage court balance, create space, and how to fill the gaps, life skills, grades and what the NCAA coaches want, that was me, as well as league founder/President. c) We handed over to their coaches young men of will and skill, heart, play to end. These coaches taught them European read and react, the latest greatest basketball out there. We were winners at all age groups. Those players all went onto VERY successful High School teams and by name that 2016-17 grad team w Sean being a year younger, all 100% went to college to play basketball or football on scholarship. The basis of our programs success and my, Mrs Mobley’s mission..
Davonta Jordan – Univ Buffalo SG, Chauncey Gardner – Univ of Florida (Safety), Darius Allen – Baylor (SF), Marquis McClain – Auburn (WR), Alex Keel – Union (SG), Logan Folsom – Eastern Florida (PG), Ben Bollinger – Air Force (LB), Shevelle Bailey – Nebraska (SF), Sean Mobley – VCU What they owe me and Mrs Mo, is a copy of their College Degree’s. They home at break and sleep on our floor, couches, etc. these boys are now motivated by life. And they are educated on their bodies and minds, they can all tell you that it takes 27 glasses of water to nuetralize the acid in one diet coke, and that acid breaks down muscle. We’ve had several teams, national players since then from Elijah Weaver 2018 USC commit (ESPN Top 50) to his little brother Zach 2020 (Top 25 Florida) who will succeed them.
Then Florida Air Prep (one of 5 big basketball schools in Florida came calling). Coached by Aubin Goporo http://www.coachgoporo.com one of top 3 all-time winingest coaches in Florida asked if we would accept a scholarship to have Sean live and play there. Florida Air was only second to Monverde as a turnstile for college coaches who visited. Sean played there, 2 year starter won all districts, lost on state final and had a great City of Palms showing, semi-finalist. Where Sean received his first verbal from Billy Donovan just 8 weeks before he accepted the OKC head coach job. I became the player developer for Florida Air included putting in a training room and working on mental toughness with the players. Then school took a new look, name, approach and coach after Sean’s sophomore year..
Sean was selected by Montverde Coach Kevin Boyle to play and live there (where they had just won 3 National Championships in a row) with guys like Ben Simmons, Joel Embid, Dakari Johnson, D’Angelo Russell to name a few. Boyle didn’t suggest that Sean would be a starter but thought he would get some good time, play best players in the country and get great looks. Needless to say, Sean started the first season behind Bruno Fernando (Maryland), Silvio DeSousa (Kansas) and EJ Montgomery (2018 ESPN Top 50), whereby mid-season had replaced them all with starting position after holding the Ball bros to 6 points and bringing Montverde back from 25 down in City of Palms against Chino Hills, whereby Montverde lost by only 1. Sean also backed up missing players in Montverde’s National Post Grad Team, whereby in his Junior year played in 60 games only loosing 2, COP and the Dicks National Championship. Sean in his senior year had over 50 offers from schools, was co-caption of Montverde team which was named High School Team of the decade by USAToday, won almost all the major tournaments nationally. The thing here is Sean has played just about all the best 2015-2018 players in the country by virtue of his top schools and coaches, which fly to almost every major tournaments nationally including Beach Ball, City of Palms, Hoop Hall of Fame Classic, HoopFest, Chicago Elite, Orange Bowl, several others and finalist at Dicks National Championship. That is like playing 2 years in college, the best teams and the best players in the country. Just look at the names on his website www.seanmobley.com and that is only the list thru his Junior year, never got a chance to update his senior.
How often do you and Sean talk?
About twice a week
Walk us through Sean’s decision to stay at VCU. How much of a factor was Coach Rhoades in the decision?
Well, we were introduced and greeted to VCU by Will Wade, Casey Long, Wes Long, and Rasheed Davis. We loved the coaching mind set, we were very impressed with the recruiting of other high IQ and top players. Yet, when it came to comparisons, the facilities, the fans, the town, the direct attention to education with a academic adviser who traveled with team, no football, etc. it was a true basketball sports led school. When Wade left, it was truly disappointing, but we understood the business side of basketball, honestly we were getting other calls…but wanted to hear from Coach Rhoades first. Mike came down along with Brent, Jeremy, and JD, we talked, he seemed to have come from the VCU legacy ie Shaka crew and we felt like it was very similar. So Sean kept with his commitment. The bigger disappointment was that Myan and Lavar didnt stay. Sean felt with those guys and Marcus, they had a sound class of top players.
Was the “Ram Nation or no nation” moniker spontaneous, or something you and Sean talked about?
As soon as the coaches left my office, we talked as a family to discuss the similarities. It literally rolled out of his mouth when he made the call to Coach Rhoades.
What is you relationship like with VCU fans on social media?
It’s great, I love all the enthusiasm and dedication. Its pretty crazy to be at a game and someone come up and say “Hi I am RamFan” or other call name from Twitter. Really cool also to meet people on the road, we met the whole NY / NJ VCU alum/fan club in New Jersey at Seton Hall game.
What are some of your favorite Twitter accounts?
Wow, hopefully I dont leave anyone out. Mat Shelton-Eide, MGL, KatieRanallo, AlienAiden, DebbieOwens, RamFan1, Forthe(heart)of Havoc, psRichmond, BobDudas, RambleOn, VCU_fanatic, RaginRam, MitchMcGuire, VCURam, vcurams05, WillWeaver, VCURamNation, again I feel horrible if I missed anyone.
You’ve attended a game or two at VCU, what do you like about the atmosphere?
Definitely awesome, from the fans who are off the chain in supporting the team, to the Peppas who are a complete act of their own, to the Gold Rush dancers who could raise the dead, and the cheerleaders and spirit groups who are constantly getting you back into it, just about the time “you think” your going to get a breather. Its all a total experience.
What has been your favorite VCU game so far?
Texas from the game, action, and player match ups. Plus, the festivities with Shaka were quite respectful, honorable, and showed me allot of class from the Ramily.
What do you think are the biggest issues with this VCU team right now?
Synergy – due to allot of new players. Trust – due to having pockets of synergy sub groups. Communications – due to not enough trust by those who feel they have/must carry all the balls and often overplay. Defense – due to not enough communications on the court and lack of trust, synergy. Coach Rhoades knows all this and he has to put the players in positions to be successful.
With 7 straight NCAA appearances, some VCU fans are unfamiliar with having a down year, what is your message to those people?
“Sometimes you face difficulties not because you’re doing something wrong, but because your doing something right” This season is not over, the Coaches must develop this team and its players, and VCU fans must support the development of their Coaches to do so.
How did you feel listening to coach Rhoades talking about Sean being the “type of player you build a program with”?
First, it makes me, my wife, and his brother Zach extremely proud.
Yet my confident side will share with you this from his previous Coaches;
– Reason Sean was first white captain at a primarily black basketball powerhouse in middle school…Coach Ed “Fuzzy” Jones – “Sean makes this team go”
– Reason Sean was starter at top prep high school in Florida … Coach Aubin Goporo – “Sean makes our team better”
– Nike Team Florida … Ed Hall / Martin McCaan / BJ Ivey – “Sean makes our team better”.
– Montverde Academy ….Kevin Boyle – “Sean starts because he makes plays for our team, that makes us better. He is my leader on the floor””
– Chandler Parsons Team CP25 …Anthony Ricks – “Sean balances our team and we win games because of it”
– Tom Konchalski HSBI Report (look him up) the guru of basketball stats for college coaches, said to me…”Bill, Sean has stats that run off the right side of my page here, way past the basic points, rbs, assists… and I keep stats that no one else keeps. His basketball IQ is really unbelievable and he does things that most people dont understand. He makes everyone on the floor that much better.”
Therefore, my bold answer is…we put and Sean earned the right to train/play with great Coaches and played the best players in the country. So we all “as a family” expect him to be a top program player contributor. Again, I say that not with attitude, but with great pride in all the work that he and we have put behind him.
What do you think the future of VCU basketball looks like, and what are the keys to success?
Recruiting. Player balancing. You need athletes and high IQ players both, to not only get to the NCAA tournament but to win. Mental toughness and heart in today’s world, come from new school basketball teachings out there, as in today’s world of sports, as a Coach you have to first break away those who live in this “entitlement world”. Entitlement is the root of cancer on any team.
How excited are you for Sean and his future with this program?
We are very happy with VCU thus far. Sean is grateful and humbled by the opportunity VCU has given him, the fans welcome and City of Richmond. He wants to be Coached and win. He is a team player and more importantly a team leader. When we’ve talked recently, I share with him to not hold back, bring it all, and keep playing the game the right way, its tangible and the Coaches will figure it out soon.