Josh Powell Basketball Camp|Camp a slam dunk for kids
Published 12:00 am Friday, July 31, 2009
This will be one trip to grandma’s house 8-year-old Hamilton Baker won’t soon forget.
Baker was one of 80 campers who went through a variety of basketball drills on Thursday morning, the first day of Josh Powell’s three-day camp at Vicksburg High School.
Powell, a reserve forward for the world champion Los Angeles Lakers, spent the four-hour session, teaching, playing and exhorting campers like Baker about the finer points of the game from an NBA player.
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“I’m thrilled,” said Baker, who came up to Vicksburg from Daphne, Ala., for his summer visit with his grandmother. “My mom saw where the camp was starting today and brought me. She knows how much I love the Lakers. I thought it might be Kobe (Bryant) but at least it’s somebody from the Lakers. And they say Dwight Howard is going to be here (today).”
Howard, an NBA All-Star who led the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals against the Lakers and the United States to the Olympic gold medal last year, arrived in Vicksburg Thursday night and was at this morning’s session. Howard and Powell are both from the Atlanta area and have been friends for several years.
Powell’s connections to Vicksburg are due to his agent, Jamie Knox, a Vicksburg High graduate. Both went to North Carolina State.
“I’m really pleased to be able to bring Josh Powell of the world champion Los Angeles Lakers to Vicksburg,” said Knox.
Powell, who wrapped up his fourth season in the NBA following the Lakers’ 4-1 series win over the Magic in the NBA finals last month, was happy to oblige Knox.
“I really appreciate having the opportunity to work with these kids and I look forward to helping them get better with their game,” said Powell, who played in 60 games this season with the Lakers, averaging 4.2 points per game as the primary backup for Los Angeles’ front court players Andrew Bynum, Paul Gasol and Lamar Odom.
One of the camp coaches joining Powell on Thursday was fellow North Carolina State product Courtney Fells. The 6-foot-4 guard is still waiting to see if Knox can land him a free agent job with an NBA team. It’s the same path Powell took.
“I just got through playing in a summer league in Orlando and I feel pretty good about my chances of getting signed and being in a NBA camp this fall,” said Fells, who helped the Wolfpack to a 16-14 record by averaging 11.3 points per game.
Fells said his four-year experience playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference, should help him like it did Powell.
“Both of us played in the ACC for four years, and Josh has been in the league now four years and I’m trying to get started. You get better playing the North Carolinas, Marylands and Dukes. North Carolina won the national championship this year, but they had a hard time in our league. That’s because we’re familiar with them,” Fells said.
North Carolina beat Fells’ Wolfback 89-80 last February and it was in that game where he had to guard the Tarheels’ super-quick guard Ty Lawson.
“You know, they had four players go in this year’s draft with Danny Green being the last of the four picked. Lawson, to me, is the best of the four, because he is fast and is strong near the rim,” Fells said.
Getting players better is what Powell’s camp is all about.
“You can always learn something from a camp like this,” said Vicksburg High standout guard Alexus Stirgus, a two-time All-County player.
“I’m really excited about this,” said Warren Central Junior High player Delvin Tyler, 11. “They taught us different passes, out to play in front and in back.”
“It’s been pretty cool and a lot more NBA players are suppose to come over the next two days,” added 9-year-old Wesley Ricks, who also attends Bowmar Elementary.
Vicksburg High boys basketball coach Dellie C. Robinson was elated to have all this happen in his gym.
“This is super for these kids,” Robinson said. “Not only are they teaching them basketball skills, but the importance of education and that’s something that is great not only for our community, but for Warren County as well.”
Robinson is one of six high school coaches, who are assisting Powell this weekend.
Contact Jeff Byrd at firstname.lastname@example.org