Q&A with Keith Van Horn

Q: As a middle and high school athlete, what are some things you did to constantly improve and take your game to the next level?

Van Horn:I did not do any formal training at all. I spent all my time playing in my backyard and at local parks in the Los Angeles area with my siblings and friends. There is a lot to be said for just going out and working on your game on your own with no coaches. You learn to play the game that way without fear of consequences. I played for hours and hours every day.”

Q: What were some obstacles you overcame as you pursued playing college basketball? 

Van Horn: “While my goal as a youngster was to one day play in the NBA, I played the game because I loved it, not just to make the NBA or play collegiately.  So I never looked at anything as an obstacle, just an opportunity to improve at the game I loved.”

Q: You played for one of the most popular coaches of this era in Rick Majerus. What are some important things he taught you in your time at Utah? 

Van Horn: “To approach each game focused on the things you can control.  Effort. Defense. Rebounding. Running the court. No one can stop a player from doing those things. If you focus on the things you can control, everything else, like making shots and scoring naturally comes into place. I also learned that there are a lot more important things in life than basketball and that having your priorities in place makes the game easier.”  

Q: What is some advice you would give high school athletes that are in the process of or hope to be recruited by a college to play for?

Van Horn: “Play the game for the love, not a college scholarship. You are successful when you are doing something you are truly passionate about.”

Q: You enjoyed success in the NBA, averaging 16 points and nearly 7 rebounds a game in your career. What were some of your favorite memories from your time in the NBA? 

Van Horn:Time spent in the locker room with my teammates. Playing in two NBA finals. Having the ability to use basketball as a tool to impact others’ lives.”

Q:  The position you played and your versatility on the floor allowed you to play well in the post and perimeter. Was there a particular player growing up that you modeled your game after? 

Van Horn: “Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Derrick McKey, Sam Perkins.”

Q: Who were the toughest defenders you played against, and what made them great defenders? 

Van Horn:  “Cliff Robinson and Derrick McKey. They could guard multiple positions and were always great position defenders.”

Q: Now as a coach of young athletes, what do you hope to instill in them to help them become successful? 

Van Horn: “They need to love what they do.  If they don't love it, find a sport that they do love. When you love it, it is easy to work hard and put in the extra time needed to become great.”

Q: Tell us about the various charities you are involved with. What made you decide to be a part of them? 

Van Horn: “My wife and I enjoy supporting organizations where we can see a direct impact on the youth we support through funds donated vs. large charities where you never really know how your money is being spent. So we tend to focus on smaller organizations where are money is used for specific individuals or programs. That is very satisfying to see someone’s life significantly impacted by a donation.”

Keith Van Horn was taken with the 2nd pick in the 1997 NBA Draft. He spent 9 seasons in the NBA and still ranks in the top ten of career leaders in points and rebounds for the New Jersey Nets. Keith played in college at Utah where he was a two-time All-American. Keith has been married to his wife Amy for over 18 years and they have 4 children. The Van Horn family resides in Colorado where Keith coaches for the Colorado Premier Basketball Club. You can follow Keith on Twitter:@coach_keith44