This event was the start of something new and different, and of course, with anything that’s new, there will always be some pushback! However, here is some of my insight into the NCAA Basketball Academy East Region, from the perspective of a chaperone.
Keep in mind I was not involved physically with what I viewed as a very strenuous training. After talking with my son who is taking time off to rest because of body soreness I can tell it was very hard on the athletes’ bodies. The day would begin promptly at 6 am to meet teammates in the lobby by 7:30 for breakfast. Immediately following breakfast, the athletes began workshops although the information was good, I feel that more emphasis should have been placed on college-level topics, as the percentage of athletes making it to the NBA is very low. Once workshops were over the morning drills started which I will speak more on this later. Following the drills, and after a brief lunch, the athletes participated in games. The group I was with the morning drills started promptly at 10:45 am and ended around 1:00 pm. This included 20 minutes of nonstop drills without a break. The last portion of the drills lasted 45 minutes following the intensive drills, the athletes participated in two games. I believe this resulted in mediocre ball play during the second game as you must keep in mind that the athletes had been up since 6 am and the last game started at 7:40 pm. Getting back to the dorm between 9 and 10 pm then the 12-14 hour day for some ends with a 15-20 minute walk back to the dorm.
Remember I am just an observer, but I would just like to share a few recommendations for a better camp experience.
- Cut back on the drills and allow the athletes to play earlier and return to the dorms at a decent hour, so that they can get the rest and sleep they need for the next day activities.
- Since the athletes are getting the “college” athletic experience, the activities should include yoga sessions, along with rest and recovery sessions as done for college players.
- Add shuttles for the athletes after the day’s session. After a very long and strenuous day, many athletes, including those who may have suffered minor injuries or muscle fatigue had to take a 20-minute walk back to their dorms. Walking this distance could have made any injuries worse. I also think this was unsafe as well.
- How did the selection committee determine which athletes could attend the event? It’s quite possible to have over 100 kids from North Carolina fill out the nominations as possible attendees. With such a large number, I believe the academy should reach out to recruiting services and get their input on who should be asked to attend.
- My last improvement idea may take a little work, but I believe it would make a tremendous positive difference in the performance of the athletes. The organizers should do some research on each attendee and prepare packages that their team coaches could use to enhance the athlete’s experience. The package could include a photograph of the athlete along with everyone’s skills and weakness. I believe this would allow the coaches to get a better grasp on who they are working with.
Good or bad, there is nothing like college life. The first time living in a dorm, having a roommate and eating from the cafeteria is an experience like none other. Being around and seeing so many talented kids, who maybe for the first time having the opportunity to play and showcase their skills in front of coaches that they may not have had a chance to do otherwise. Limited exposure and not playing on a shoe circuit leads to less visibility by coaches and schools.
I was unable to watch all the North Carolina players, although I tried, I will give a quick recap of some of those players, as well as two players from outside of North Carolina that stood out.
Ben Li is a 6-foot 6-inch kid from Middleburg Virginal, who has committed to Lehigh. This small forward has a big body and is strong and very skilled. He doesn’t mind mixing it in the post, but he can also get to the basket off the bounce. Not to mention, he has a great looking shot.
Michael Graham is a 6-foot 9-inch kid from Brooklyn New York. He has received offers from Elon, Bryant, Bradley, Robert Morris and many more. He is long and agile and has a wingspan that looks to be every bit of seven feet. With that wingspan, he can block anything in and out of his area and he dunks everything!
From North Carolina:
- Jackson Threadgill – This is my first-time seeing Jackson play and this young man is very smooth and looks very good in the midrange area. He showed he could score with the best of them at the camp an also competed on the defensive end.
- Brock Williams – Everyone in NC knows that Brock is a bucket getter! I was impressed by his ability to run his team and always looking to get others in their spots not forcing the issue while causing havoc with his on-ball defense.
- Ahmil Flowers – Ahmil was the all-around team first “glue guy”! He did all the small things when able to run point guard for his team that is where he did his main damage attacking the basket and finishing at the rim. Even though he wasn’t listed as a point guard he was the best point guard for his team.
- Christian Hampton- This was the normal Chris who played with a high motor and great defense and of course, he showed his above the rim ability. Chris showed leadership skills each game I saw even setting up his own plays for the team during dead ball situations
- Tristan Maxwell- Tristian didn’t play every game, but the games he did play in he showed that he is an elite scorer. In one of the games, with 70 plus coaches in attendance, he ran off an easy 25 points from every way possible.
- Kadyn Dawkins- Kadyn was solid for the entire four days he had limited turnovers, shot well from distance, and displayed some amazing court vision. He led the team in assists and was one of the better rebounders on the team adding to all of this, Kadyn was very vocal on the court.
Last thoughts… I really hope this camp takes off and continues to grow. I believe it will only get better. Year one in Connecticut was a tremendous experience!!!