ALL ABOUT FUNDAMENTALS
Eric Patten, Clippers.com
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PAUL’S SAN DIEGO CAMP ALL ABOUT FUNDAMENTALS
Chris Paul’s second overnight camp at UC San Diego has gone global.
Campers from as far away Taiwan, Australia and Israel were among more than 300 kids, ranging in ages from 8-17, attending the four-day event.
“I think it says a lot about Chris,” Camp Director Herman “Tree” Harried said. “You have players not only from the U.S. but other countries. I think it just how worldwide known he is. And I think it’s not just because of the kind of player he is, but the kind of human he is. He stands for the right things in terms of basketball and professionalism. I think that’s an attraction for people to come to his camp and see him.”
The camp starts early and ends late and Paul is there every day ensuring that the group is getting a lesson in not only basketball, but things that transcend the sport.
"It's just about basketball," Paul said Monday. "It's about life, and it’s about teaching them manners, about being respectful and about listening. It’s crazy now to have a son of my own who’s actually running around here at camp. It’s kind of cool for me him have to respect authority from someone other than his parents. Our coaches are always so great. At the end of the day they’re giving up their time to give back to these kids and that’s what it’s all about.”
Harried, who has long been the boys basketball coach at Lake Clifton High in Baltimore and has been involved with USA Basketball, Nike Skills Academy and worked with LeBron James’ youth camp in addition to Paul’s, agreed.
“We’re trying to get back to the fundamentals of basketball,” Harried said. “Somewhere in the game of basketball fundamentals have been lost. We’re trying to get back to dribbling and passing, shooting, rebounding, offense and defense.”
The fundamental aspects of basketball are important to Paul. Through nine NBA seasons, he’s long been considered the best all-around point guard. Since joining the Clippers in 2011-12, Paul has finished in the top seven of the league’s Most Valuable Player voting and is coming off a year in which he, along with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, led the Clippers to the best record in franchise history (57-25) and finished with the league lead in assists and steals for the third time in his career.
But Paul has never been about numbers, though. His competitiveness and willingness to make teammates better are what have driven him. It’s why he was in the UCSD gym at 5 a.m. on Monday working with Clippers’ strength and conditioning coach Rich Williams before addressing campers three and a half hours later, shortly after they reached the court from breakfast. It’s also why when asked why fundamentals were so important to him he referred to five-time NBA champion and fellow Wake Forest alum Tim Duncan.
“For me, it’s all about the fundamentals,” Paul said. “You look at someone like Tim Duncan, who I’ve looked up to since I was a kid, he doesn’t do anything flashy he just keeps getting it done.
“The stations are all about the drills I used to do as a kid. I think a lot of times kids want to see instant gratification. They want to work on it today and be better at it tomorrow. But for me I think about all the times I was in the basement at my parents’ house just working on ball-handling drills.”
Each day at the camp, Paul and his coaches and volunteers come up with a “skill of the day” and it is emphasized during morning and afternoon skill sessions, each lasting an hour. Day campers attend from 8:45 a.m. to 9 p.m., while overnight campers are housed on campus. Each of the four days includes a guest speaker, a 3-on-3 competition and 5-on-5 games as well as three meals, competitions and plenty of hands-on interaction from Paul.
“We try to accommodate as many kids as possible, but it’s all about getting that experience and getting that one-on-one and touching the kids and just having fun with them,” Paul said.
Through it all, the 29-year-old Paul said while it’s exciting putting on another camp in the west it also makes him realize how long he’s been a part of the game of basketball.
“It actually starts making feel like I’m getting kind of old,” he said. “There are a few kids here before I moved to the West Coast and started having the camp that used to come to my camp all the way in North Carolina.
“It’s so much fun to see so many familiar faces, kids that have been here for four or five years now. I think the most interesting thing about camp is where kids travel from. We have kids who come from Japan. Because we’re on the West Coast kids are coming from Philly and Jersey. It’s an all-around great experience.”