By Madisen Carter
For Rodney Westmoreland III, playing basketball runs in his blood. Both his father and grandfather played and coached basketball, and as he continued to grow, Westmoreland was able to be trained by them both, guiding him to fall in love with the game early on.
Westmoreland was able to have three valuable years of working on his game with his grandfather before he passed away. He was able to learn and understand basketball as well as why his father and grandfather both loved the game of basketball so much.
“I think from the moment he was born, having a father and a grandfather who really love the game, taught the game, and were coaches, it almost was inevitable in his destiny. I think when he had the opportunity to have his grandfather coach him for those few years before he passed away, it sparked the drive in him to really want to be successful and take the game to a different level,” Westmoreland’s mother, Rachel, said.
His father, Rodney Westmoreland II, said that Westmoreland picked up the game very quickly, and when they moved to California when Westmoreland was in sixth grade, they pursued basketball and eventually was interested in getting him a trainer. The family had a friend who recommended Coach Packie Turner and the Unlimited Potential Basketball Training Facility, and Westmoreland Sr. said the first time they went to the facility, it was instantly amazing.
Westmoreland was able to train at UPB for a few months until everything in the area was shut down due to COVID-19. Since the gym has opened back up, Westmoreland has been back at it, and now trains weekly with Coach Packie. We talked to both Westmoreland II and Mrs. Westmoreland about why they chose UPB for Rodney and how the work he has put into training has improved his game:
Q: Since Rodney has been at UPB, have you seen his skills improve?
A: “I think his skills have improved to where he focuses more. It really is the transition from training to games, right. To be able to take what you have learned and apply it in a game. It has really been really instrumental for him because you can do all the trainings all day every day, [but] if you don’t apply it, it doesn't resonate… It really just built his confidence as well, to be able to understand not only what [the] other types of players he's playing with [are]... but to understand the great player that is inside of him and to be able to bring that out. We have [seen] his time with Packie being able to really bring out the greatest in himself. It's believing in yourself and having that confidence. So it's the skill set, but it's also the confidence we've watched increase over the period of time,” Mrs. Westmoreland said.
“[We] definitely have seen his confidence and his ability, you know. He's been told he's great in a lot of places, but being there and actually understanding the breakdown of the game, it gives you some confidence that a lot of a lot of kids don't have,” Westmoreland II said.
Q: How has the transition been as a coach yourself to trust another trainer and facility with Rodney?
A: “It's very tough if you feel like you don't have the right coach, the right person to be mentoring him, [and the right person] talking him through the game because your kid can learn a lot of negative things that could really ruin who they become as a player. So you have to make sure that you're finding the right person, and Packie’s a person where if he had a program for AAU, it would be very easy to say my kid's going to go play there, you know, because he knows the game… I'm very opinionated when it comes to making sure that the right person is training [Rodney] and with Packie, it's a no brainer. He talks through the details of the mental aspect of being great, he allows you to continue to enjoy the game, but still lets you know that he believes in you," Westmoreland II said.
Q: How has the mental training at UPB helped Rodney in his game?
A: “When he started with Packie, [he was around 12] so he is also learning himself, right? He's growing and becoming a young man and I think playing this level of basketball is already a mental shift. Being able to be with Packie and go to Packie’s training and understanding, ‘okay, you missed that shot, it’s okay, this is what you need to do to make it next time…’ I love the fact that [Packie] trains not only to their physical abilities, but to their mental abilities too and understanding what gets them going, when it’s the time to push hard, when it’s the time to lay low and just let them go,” Mrs. Westmoreland said.
Q: What makes UPB stand out?
A: “At this age, we want to try to find that fine balance of pushing them to our expectations of their limits right, but also wanting it to be fun, and to continue to have the love of the game. So in many instances when it's time to train, I follow Rodney’s lead, and how he reacts to wanting to go to trainings or, you know, once he comes out of trainings, I focus on his demeanor. I've always found with Packie that he remembers when [the] training are, [and] he wants to go to training…I follow his lead in that and he has always been excited about going to Packie and learning,” Mrs. Westmoreland said.
“I wanted him to have a love for the game without pressuring him and pushing him and doing it myself telling him all these things, so it was great to just have him with someone like Packie that could work with him,” Westmoreland II said.
Julius Randle has been the epitome of constant growth and improvement season after season since his debut in 2014. After an impressive 2022-2023 season with the Knicks averaging 25.1 points per game on 46% shooting, Randle seeks to continue building on last season’s success and contributing to a winning franchise. Although the start of the Knicks’ season has not gone exactly to plan, Randle has showcased his veteran poise and innate ability to continue elevating his game as the long NBA season treads on.