Fun and basketball
Jayhawks make camp memorable at BLHS
Basehor There are certain things a parent can tell their up-and-coming athlete without the message fully sinking in.
Such messages perhaps carry a bit more weight when delivered by a national champion such as Kansas University guard Sherron Collins who helped the Jayhawks defeat Memphis in overtime, 75-68, on April 7 in the NCAA finals.
"Do the things that you're supposed to do. Listen to your parents, and always put your grades first because you can't be an athlete without being a student," Collins told a group of about 40 wide-eyed youngsters during the morning session of the Washburn College Stars Camp at Basehor-Linwood High School.
Fellow Jayhawk Cole Aldrich and KU women's player Danielle McCray echoed Collins' sentiments and repeated them to about 60 more campers at the afternoon session.
Although the KU athletes' message was serious, they also put plenty of emphasis on having fun. In addition to Aldrich, Collins and McCray, KU player Conner Teahan and incoming freshmen Tyshawn Taylor and Quintrell Thomas were on hand as camp instructors.
The Jayhawks taught fundamentals and participated in shooting drills with the younger campers and then mixed things up a bit during scrimmages with the older campers. They also showboated a bit, attempting dunks and half-court shots, while also dazzling campers with flashy dribbling and blocked shots.
In one instance while messing around during a water break, Aldrich blocked a young girl's shot and another camper shouted out, "Hansbrough," referencing Aldrich's vicious swat of North Carolina All-American Tyler Hansbrough during the NCAA semifinals.
It's moments like that while interacting with the campers that Aldrich said he enjoys most about working camps during the summer.
"A lot of kids look up to us," he said. "We're normal people. We just like to play basketball, and one thing we really do enjoy is coming out here and just playing with the little kids and whatnot."
This is the second straight year the College Stars Camp has taken place at BLHS, and it's the 24th year overall that camp director Bob Chipman, the men's basketball coach at Washburn University, has organized the event. It also was one of the most difficult because excitement still is brewing around the national championship season.
Chipman said he was excited to have a half-dozen Jayhawks on hand, and Final Four heroes Collins and Aldrich in particular.
"To have Cole and Sherron here at the same camp is unbelievable considering what they've been through," Chipman said. "Everyone is after their time. Their time is very valuable. For them to spend a day to come over here is great, so we're pretty excited about that."
Basehor-Linwood girls basketball coach Noah Simpson even got in on the action. Simpson, a Basehor native, said the camp was a tremendous opportunity for the youth of the community.
"It's good for our kids to be able to see exactly what they're striving for," said Simpson, a 1999 BLHS graduate and former basketball standout. "I think every young kid has the hopes of playing college basketball, and then when you get national champions to walk into your gym, I think that's huge. Especially just for the excitement of basketball in our community.
"Winning breeds winning. They see success 30 minutes down the road and they want to emulate that, and I think bringing those guys in helps produce that atmosphere."