Letter to My 17-Year-Old Self

Gem driving the lane.

Despite playing a key role on a four-time State Champion for his small high school, Gem Givens was not even being considered by college coaches for any Division 1 programs. He was very young for his grade, hadn’t hit his growth spurt or filled out, but had a belief in himself that was unshakable.

Convinced he deserved a chance to play ball at a very high level, Gem and his father visited IMPACT Basketball in Las Vegas the summer after his senior year to explore the idea of a basketball gap year to focus exclusively on his game, strength and getting connected to college coaches in need of players without losing a year of eligibility. Once saw that gym and how so many of the NBA greats trusted IMPACT to develop their games, Gem wanted in.

Not only did his skills develop to a whole new level, when he came home for Christmas break, his mom didn’t recognize him thanks to so much time in the weight room.

Today, Gem is a recent, debt-free college graduate who fulfilled his potential as a college basketball player and is starting to put his Marketing degree to work in the Bay Area.

The note below is what he would tell his 17-year-old senior self. Maybe it rings true for you too?

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[DURING IMPACT] Watch "A Day in the Life" of an IMPACT Post Grad Academy Player

[AFTER COLLEGE] Hear Gem answer the question, "What did IMPACT do for me?"

Dear 17-Year-Old Me,

 I’d love to tell you we made it to the league, but I’d be lying.  

 Don’t get too discouraged though, because you know as well as anyone that if you shoot for the stars, you’ll at least land in the clouds.

 I know it seems crazy to even consider a “basketball gap year” when you got exactly ZERO D1 offers and have been admitted into so many distinguished universities. It’s not a conventional route, so don’t expect everyone to understand. Just know that the people who matter, your family and friends, always have your back.

It’s going to feel weird at first, seeing all the people you graduated with on Instagram and Twitter posting about how much they love college and looking like they’re having so much fun. You’re definitely going to feel like you’re missing out at one point or another. But trust me, you’re choosing wisely and are about to set off on an amazing journey yourself.

Click Here to Read what others Players and Parents Have to Say About Their IMPACT Experiences.


 You’ll end up getting your great education for free and believe me that makes your parents VERY happy. You’ll also make lifelong friends, travel the country, and compete at a high level.

 A wise man once told me that there’s no such thing as luck. That what some people call luck is just that moment when preparation meets opportunity. You’ll find out just how true this is at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas for sure.  

 There will be days when you don’t even want to get up for workouts. There will be times when you feel like your opportunity is never going to come. There will be moments when you think to yourself that all your work has been for nothing.

But I’m promising you, if you go to work every single day as if it were the day you get your big break, you’ll end up exactly where you need to be.  You and your recruiting advisor will find the perfect fit for your next step and you’ll get to keep playing in college. You’ll even make some lifelong friends along the way.

 Try to always remember, it’s not what you do, but how you do it. Bring energy and enthusiasm to everything you do. The grind doesn’t get easier, you just get better. Stay hungry. Stay humble. Stay ready. And I’m sure you’ll feel pretty lucky when you look back on it all.

 P.S. – Don’t cheat the weight room!


 Gemeny Givens III