Over five months remain until Georgia Southern tips off the basketball season, but men’s head coach Charlton Young and his players were hard at work inside Hanner Fieldhouse Tuesday afternoon.
Of course, most of the players sharing the court with the Eagles were a bit shorter than usual.
Throughout this week, GSU is hosting Young’s second annual basketball summer camp for kids. Open to both boys and girls ages six-16, the camp offers participants some valuable tips and skills while also offering the opportunity to play alongside the same Eagles that they watch from the stands in the winter.
“I think it’s a big thrill for the kids,” said GSU assistant coach Chris Kreider. “They have an opportunity to hang out with our guys and see how they play and conduct themselves on the court.”
Attendance for this year’s edition of the camp has increased and the coaching staff is excited to make it a summertime tradition for the Statesboro area.
“We’re very impressed with the turnout this year with over 50 kids,” said Kreider. “The most important part of this camp is to allow the kids to learn about the game. We’ll go through a lot of drills to teach fundamentals, but we also want to let them go out and have fun by playing some games.”
As much as the participants may be absorbing this week, some of the camp’s teachers are also getting a learning experience.
“This is a game that I love and that these kids love,” said GSU guard Ben Drayton. “This camp lets us share the game with one another. I remember going to a lot of these types of camps when I was younger. It’s really a humbling experience to be on the other end of the coaching with all of the kids looking up to you.”
With the wide age range of campers, the instructors are looking for a number of things out of the participants.
For the younger kids, a lot of focus is placed on fundamentals and general instruction on the basics of the game. For a few of the older campers, the offer of instruction is still there, but the current Eagle players and coaches can also get a closer look at possible future players for the program.
“It’s a two-way street,” said Kreider. “We see this camp as an opportunity to give back to the youth in Statesboro, but also a chance to get a good look at some of the older kids. A lot of this year’s group is younger, but we’ll take some of the older kids aside and work with them in a one-on-one setting to give them a good evaluation.”
For many of the participants, the camp is a chance to get some practice in between seasons.
Wright Rockett, a rising sixth grader, was thrilled about the chance to play games inside of Hanner as opposed to dribbling around the driveway.
“I went to last year’s camp and I’m excited to be back this year,” said Rockett. “The coaches have taught us a lot of stuff about rebounding, shooting and other things. It’s been really cool getting to meet the players and coaches for Georgia Southern and they’re all nice and funny. This camp is something I definitely want to keep doing.”
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.