Former Player Recruits Neff to College Prep Camp

By Matt Tritten |

Published 07/22 2014 07:28PM

Updated 07/22 2014 11:07PM

(SHAWNEE MISSION, Kan.) In 18 years coaching basketball, Chris Neff hasn't had many players like Drew Hanlen pass through.

"It's really neat to have coached a player, and now him kind of coach me."

Neff worked with Hanlen from middle school through his freshman year at Webster Grove, and influenced the up-and-coming basketball player.

"He was a big skills guru back at the time and really he was one of the first high school coaches in our area that really stressed the skill development," Hanlen said, "so I latched on even when he left."

Now he makes a living teaching those same lessons Neff instilled in him.

Hanlen's an NBA strategic skills coach. He's trained professionals like Bradley Beal, David Lee, and even this year's number one overall draft pick, Andrew Wiggins.

Hanlen teamed up with Alan Stein, one of the top basketball strength and conditioning coaches in the world, to form the D1 Experience.

The D1 Experience is a camp that gives kids everything they need to gain an edge on their journey to college basketball -- from improving their basketball IQ to dealing with the media.

"Playing college basketball's a huge game of musical chairs. Literally now that basketball's a global game, there are millions of kids that play basketball," Stein said. "And they all want to play college basketball in the United States. So you're talking about a game where there's millions of people going around in a circle, and only a couple thousand can get a chair. Everything you do becomes a separator."

Among the 70 campers at Shawnee Mission East High School this week, Neff's daughter Gracie is in the mix for the second year in a row, and she's seeing her hard work pay off.

"It's finally getting to me now, and it's like now I'm understanding. Alan always talks about building yourself; build a pyramid, And I'm realizing that I can do that."

And after watching her dad teach Hanlen the same way he's now coaching her, it shows that the sky is the limit.

"I kind of grew up with him around me," Gracie Neff said, "and now just to see that he's become what he has, and now he's coaching me, it's crazy."

"Just to see how those NBA players lean on him is no different than when I lean on him," Chris Neff said, "and he probably leaned on me as an 11, 12-year-old boy. It's just kind of come full circle."

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