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Summer camp season kicks off
shs web
After giving some pointers, Statesboro High School head basketball coach Lee Hill watches as De'andria Baldwin, 6, sends a free throw towards the hoop during last year's camp at Statesboro High School. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

    When you’re one of the most successful coaches in Georgia high school basketball history and the leader of a perennial winner, there’s no such thing as an offseason.
    Fresh off of another solid season — and a near-upset of one of Georgia’s highest ranked teams in the second round of the state tournament — Statesboro coach Lee Hill is ready to open up the summer with his annual camp. The program, which builds up essential basketball skills through drills, games and instruction, has long been a highlight for young players who hope to one day become a part of a great basketball tradition at Statesboro High.
    The camp is more about fun than competition, but it’s the focus on fundamentals and the early introduction to basketball for the younger campers that play a big part in the continuous success of Hill’s varsity teams each season.
    “It would be great if kids here grow up and play for (Statesboro),” Hill said. “But the main thing is just teaching them about the game. Basketball is a fun game and we want it to be a part of their life.”
    This year’s camp will take place May 30 – June 2 at Statesboro High School. Each session will run from 8 a.m. until noon and is open to boys and girls entering grades 1-8 at a cost of $100.
    Joining Hill in running the camp will be SHS players and coaches. Also joining the camp direction will be Corey Speights, director of the new Pathway Elite basketball program that aims to grow basketball through grassroots efforts with an emphasis on basic fundamentals of the game.
    “I'm very fortunate that coach Hill is allowing me to come in and work with young players,” Speights said. “He's a great role model to his players and to kids who are looking to get into the game and that's what I want to bring as well.”
    While Hill hopes that his yearly camp will help start the next new wave of great Statesboro High squads, he's more concerned with making sure that anyone looking for a leg up in basketball has a camp to turn to. It's likely that some of this year's campers will someday dress out in the Blue Devils' blue and white, but Hill is content to help even those who could face off with him someday.
    “We get a lot of local kids, and I'm always happy to see that,” Hill said. “We also have people coming from different counties, and that's great too. I hope these kids are on their way to playing for Statesboro someday, but if people are traveling to get here and have fun, that's great too.”
    With the weight that Hill's name pulls throughout the area, he's glad to welcome in the help of Speights and his idea for how kids should grow into the game.
    College scholarships and professional contracts are alluring goals to chase after. Often, summer league teams that emphasize individuals capitalizing on their singular talents are able to soak in some of the best prep players in the country.
    Hill and Speights want the same for their players, but also see a more productive path.
    Hill has coached plenty of players that achieved their ultimate goals while Speights has lived the life as a collegiate athlete. Still, they see a balanced and more focused approach to developing talent as the way to get the most out of young players.
    "I think we have great ideas that go well together," Hill said. "The main thing is to get kids the most benefit that they can out of whatever they do.
    "I have this camp and (Speights) brings some new technology and information that wasn't here before that can really help kids get the most out of their game."
    The Lee Hill camp is just the first of a trio of basketball-playing opportunities upcomming.
    In conjuction with Pathway Elite Basketball, Statesboro will also host a father/son camp on June 18 and a day camp from July 25-28.

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9408.