Below is a brief Q&A with Hawks Talon GC Head Coach Wesley Acuff … Hawks Talon GC will have four selections in this year’s NBA 2K League Draft, which will be held at Terminal 5 in New York City on Saturday, February 22. These selections are 16th overall (first round), 38th overall (second round), 46th overall (third round) and 62nd overall (fourth round). In the offseason, the team acquired the runner-up for MVP of the 2K League, BP (Michael Diaz), in a trade with Kings Guard Gaming and decided to retain MrStylez (Andrew Valle).
Question: What’s your honest assessment of Hawks Talon GC’s first season?
Acuff: “As an organization, I think we learned a lot. It goes beyond the win-loss column. Obviously, we hoped to get more wins, but overall, it was a great learning experience.”
Q: In terms of bringing in BP and retaining Stylez, what factored into the decision to retain those two to build around for Season 3?
Acuff: “We know talent is important, and we are proud to have both the third and fourth overall picks from last year’s NBA 2K League Draft on our roster. We know that the top teams in the league all have great point guards. BP was an MVP candidate in his rookie season so that was a no-brainer. Last season, Stylez was such an easy player to coach. He also has great defensive IQ and can play multiple positions. Retaining him affords us a little versatility on the roster.”
Q: Do you think BP can have an even better season this year than he did last year?
Acuff: “BP is one of those players that can always top a previous performance. He is really a student of the game. I compare him to a mad scientist as he discovers all the dribble moves and good builds for a point guard to play on. I think that if he locks in, he can be as good as he wants to be.”
Q: Let’s talk more about the rest of your draft picks this year. What sorts of players, both skills-wise and personality-wise, are you looking to bring into the HTGC fold this season?
Acuff: “It’s all about culture. Our picks should be excited and ready to compliment both BP and Stylez. I’m trying to create a championship culture. We just need a few pieces to finish our puzzle.”
Q: What is it like to coach in the NBA 2K League from your perspective. It seems like coaches have to bring a unique mix of 2K knowledge and IRL basketball experience to the table. How do you balance that and manage the team/travel, etc.?
Acuff: “It’s fun. I’ve worked for the NBA for 11 years at NBA TV so the basketball knowledge and love for the game has always been there which makes that part easy to manage. The team travel is the hard part, leaving my wife and son every week then coming back into town and jumping right into practice. Those few days at home are filled with practice and they fly by before you know it and we’re headed back out of town.”
Q: In regards to player/team chemistry, how can coaches help improve and nurture it? What sorts of things can you impact off the sticks, since coaching is more than just an on-the-sticks responsibility? What sorts of things do you bring to HTGC’s chemistry building?
Acuff: “I think team events are important. We’ve had great movie outings, visited escape rooms, had team dinners, those sorts-of activities. I’m also big on life skills. I believe we should invest in the players personally and provide them with useful information for their lives. For example, I have a show called ‘Cooking With Coach’ on my Instagram channel. On the show, I teach players how to make quick and easy meals that are good, but can help them save costs, so they don’t eat out as much.
Also, after spending nearly a decade at Turner, I feel like I’m always creating. Most of these players want to be involved in media in some way. For example, they want to be paid to stream, so I try to give away as much knowledge as I can on content creation to help them out.”
Q: Do you ever stop to take stock in the fact that you’re coaching in an esports league that’s growing each and every year?
Acuff: “Yes, all the time. I never take it for granted.”
Q: When this season is all said and done, what will define a successful campaign for your organization from your perspective?
Acuff: “I’m out here for a championship. Now, that larger goal breaks down into several smaller goals which also define success. I want to be better than we were last year. I want us to be better every day than we were the day before. And, last but not least, I just want us to put our best effort out there. If we try and compete to the best of our abilities, that will be a successful campaign for us.”
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