Chris Staten is about to enter sixth grade and is spending his summer vacation learning some of the finer points of basketball.
“We’ve been working on cutting, getting open for the basket and looking up,” he said.
For Staten and dozens of other athletes in grades 4-12, the place to learn the fundamentals of the game this summer has been the Smith-Cotton basketball camp, where they get a chance to work on their skills with Tigers coach Ray Hughes.
“We’ve got four teams and we have coaches coaching games at the end, so they’re really fired up and they’re a lot more competitive and there’s a lot of talking at the end,” he said.
The players are working a lot on fundamentals of the game, everything from making layups with both hands to passing techniques to dribbling.
“(We learned dribbling) behind the back and through the legs in order to get around a defender,” Staten said.
Hughes also wants to teach the players something more than just fundamentals.
“To learn to enjoy the game and compete at a high level,” he said.
To boost that enjoyment level for the younger athletes, Hughes has added in little games, like one drill where players simulate end-of-game situations by trying to get a shot off before the buzzer.
“Everybody will have that attitude to enjoy the game and enjoy competing and just having the willingness to get better on their own time,” Hughes said.
Staten feels he is learning the game and getting better at it and said one of the things he has learned this week is “not being selfish with the ball, looking out for your other teammates.”
Hughes also brought some technology to the camp. While the young basketball players work on their skills on the floor, a JV player videotapes the drills.
“I film every one of them just so we can go back and look at it and analyze,” he said. “We can see what we could have done better or that was good, that was effective. It helps you improve.”
The boys basketball camp continues today while the girls basketball camp begins Monday.