The Basketball Podcast: EP310 with Dave Leitao on The Development Landscape

RELEASE DATE : 06/03/2024

In this week’s coaching conversation, Overtime Elite coach Dave Leitao joins the Basketball Podcast to discuss the basketball coaching and development landscape.

Dave Leitao is an accomplished American professional basketball coach, currently holding the position of head coach for the City Reapers in Overtime Elite (OTE). With a coaching journey spanning various institutions, including DePaul University, the University of Virginia, and his alma mater, Northeastern University, Leitao has left an indelible mark on the basketball world.

As a 6’7″ forward at Northeastern University from 1978 to 1982, Dave Leitao showcased his talent on the court. His college years saw him participate in the NCAA tournament twice, with his teams achieving an impressive overall record of 79-34.

Leitao began his coaching journey as an assistant under Jim Calhoun at Northeastern University in 1984, later joining Calhoun at the University of Connecticut. After a stint as the head coach at Northeastern University, Leitao returned to Calhoun’s staff during the Huskies’ national championship-winning season in 1999.

In 2002, Leitao assumed the head coaching position at DePaul University, leading the Blue Demons to postseason appearances, including the NIT in 2003 and 2005, as well as the NCAA tournament in 2004. His tenure saw an overall record of 58–34.

Taking over as head coach at the University of Virginia, Leitao made history as the first person of African descent to coach any varsity sport in Virginia Cavaliers history. Notably, he was named the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Coach of the Year by the Associated Press in the 2006–07 season.

Continuing his coaching journey in the innovative Overtime Elite league, Leitao has achieved success, winning the OTE Finals in the league’s first two seasons. He continues to lead the City Reapers influencing young players like last year’s team members Amen and Ausar Thompson, showcasing his dedication to player development.

Dave Leitao


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Dave Leitao Quotes:

“We have a financial coaching arm that has taught our youth on a collegiate level what to do with the finances that you’ll make one day. We’re in the mental health space and just uplifting black people and black coaches in the sports world that we tend to see and interact with every single day.”

“We are a primarily skill development oriented business. So when you come here as an athlete, you have an advantage that few people in America have, that you’re going to get better and get taught by and coached by those who are experts in the field of getting athletes better in their craft.”

“There are so many things that go into being a supreme level athlete and ultimately a supreme level person. Because when you leave here and go out into the world, not just the world of athletics, whether it be professionally, collegiate or otherwise, you’ve got to understand emotionally and through your thought process who you are, how you fit in and what is going to make you successful.”

“We live in a world of analytics and data. So, what does that mean about how I go about my workout and what am I looking for? What do I have to do? Where are those shots coming from? A corner-three versus a wing-three on the move? What are my percentages? How do I approach that shot? How can I get better going right or going left and catching into a shot, dribbling into a three pointer?”

“Two things are really critical . . One is the education and understanding why this is important,  teaching them the data that they maybe have never even known about or seen prior to coming here. And then the other part of it is meeting them where they’re at. We have all this information, but it’s only good if you understand it. Some people learn better than others, some people accept information better than others. So, we’ve got to dial it down sometimes or dial it up to understand where they’re at in their learning process.”

“Being around young people for 40 years has been the joy of my lifetime. God has blessed me a thousand times over to be able to be around young people my whole career, because I get to morning, afternoon and night, be involved with the process of teaching them how to not just be better athletes, but better people and do it in harmony.”

“The greatest gift that you can give to a young person is the gift of confidence. And so, in this space that I’m at, how do I give confidence without supplanting the thing that they need, which is strength and discipline and structure and accountability and all those things that I learned that could take your confidence away. And so having that balance is really key.”

“When you’re on the court, we’re going to try to require that you don’t just take a layup, just to take a layup. You don’t take a jump shot because somebody says shoot around. That’s called free swim at the municipal pool when you splash around. When you’re working on your craft, you’re doing it with intention.”

“The biggest challenge and the biggest separator is what kind of mindset that you bring into this basketball space every day. It’s not going to be your best day every day, but if I’m working on your game, we’re trying to get you to understand and read, pick and roll, and make great decisions, then I need you present emotionally. I need you to be physically ready to go so that we can take advantage of the talent that God has given you.”

“If I have a young person and what I’m telling them about themselves, whether I use sugar or hot sauce . . but you know that I have your best interests at heart, then you can rely on me, and I know that you are bought into this process.”

“Every parent wants to give their child a better gift than they were afforded when they were at that age. We want to give our children a better life than we had. But we forget to give them the one thing that they need the most. What is that? Struggle. You’ve had it. I’ve had it. We’ve all had it. And so, teaching them what it means to overcome and the ability to get through a challenging situation is, I think, one of the biggest keys to life.”

Dave Leitao Breakdown:

1:00 – Developing Professional Players
6:00 – Approaching Player Development
9:00 – Holistic Approach
11:00 – Analytics
18:00 – Continuous Process
21:00 – Evolving Philosophically
23:30 – Improvement
28:00 – Real World Experience
33:30 – Next Generation of Coaches
36:00 – Holding Players Accountable
39:00 – Player’s Life
46:00 – Life Foundation

Dave Leitao Selected Links from the Podcast:

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