Christon Hangs with Campers

By Nick Gallo | Thunder Basketball Writer |

A dozen basketballs bounced simultaneously inside the lane at Yukon High School’s gymnasium and the owner of each ball desperately strived to keep their dribble alive.

Thunder rookie guard Semaj Christon was in the midst of eleven kids at the Thunder Youth Basketball camp, keeping his dribble low and strong while trying to steal the ball from others during the camp’s intense game of dribble knockout.

Throughout Wednesday afternoon, Christon engaged the campers on the court and off of it, getting to know them while also helping them through drills. It was clear Christon was a natural with the kids, just hopping into each drill like he was just a kid as well.  

“I have a lot of brothers and sisters,” Christon said. “They remind me of my brothers just jumping around and wanting to have fun on the court. It was a great opportunity to come out here.”

Christon was asked hundreds of questions throughout the day from the campers, and by the end the kids felt like they had not only gotten a chance to meet a Thunder player, but had the opportunity to learn something as well. It was Christon’s first official community appearance with the organization since he was acquired in June’s 2014 NBA Draft, so he saw Wednesday’s visit as an opportunity to help dole out some advice about hard work, enjoyment of the game and heeding the coaches’ advice.

“It was fun meeting a Thunder player and just getting better,” 14-year-old Brook Jester said. “He was a good example to have fun but discipline yourself.”

From dribbling to shooting and passing to defense, Thunder Youth Basketball Camps give Oklahoma youths to learn from coaches who have experience playing at the high school, collegiate and even professional level. On special occasions, even Thunder players like Christon will stop by for a visit. The fundamentals being taught are essential to the growth and development of each child as a player, but those lessons are being dispensed in a fun, positive, playful environment.

“I like the coaches,” 12-year-old Kendal Hoffman said. “They’re nice and they have fun with it while they’re teaching us.”

Christon certainly made an impact in Yukon on Wednesday, giving back to the city that supports the Thunder on an unparalleled level. He’s also working hard with Thunder coaches, trainers and teammates at the INTEGRIS Health Thunder Development Center this offseason as he prepares for the upcoming season.

After a successful Summer League showing in Orlando, Christon wants to build off of that performance to springboard himself into whatever opportunities the 2014-15 season has in store. The tall, long, physical point guard has great mentors to learn from in Russell Westbrook and Reggie Jackson and he hopes to use the rest of the summer and training camp as an opportunity to hone his skills in all areas.

“I’m just coming in every day, learning, competing with the other guys and just getting better,” Christon said. “I’m learning the fundamentals of the game. I’m still just picking up everything and competing. That’s pretty much it. I’m coming out to practice every day knowing what we have to get done.”