Jones Shows Campers Value of Hard Work

Kids at Thunder Youth Basketball Camps are used to playing one-on-one and two-on-two against one another. On Wednesday, those campers had slightly taller competition in those drills when Thunder forward Perry Jones stepped in the rotation.

With his patented smile that spans from cheek to cheek, Jones and a camp counselor made this week’s camp at the Thunder Events Center in Edmond one to remember by throwing alley-oops to one another in two-on-two games. Despite the fact that Jones had just wrapped up his own basketball workout at the INTEGRIS Health Thunder Development Center just minutes before making an appearance at camp, he had a pep in his step and joy in every interaction he had with the campers.

“Every time I come out here, I enjoy myself because I’m a big kid at heart,” Jones said. “Coming out here, playing with them, I have as much fun as I possibly can.”

If Jones was tired from his morning workout, he showed no signs of it to anyone in the building when he played two-on-two, took part in a dribble knockout competition and went through shooting and dribbling drills with all of the campers. It was easy to see how much Jones’ attentiveness and eagerness to join in the camp as if he was one of the kids impacted the campers.

Most of the kids were besides themselves that an NBA player was playing against them, but Youth Basketball Coordinator Keeton Peery used Jones’ attitude and energy to help his kids understand the importance of hard work to being successful in basketball and life in general.

“He’s an NBA player playing with a bunch of kids, having a good time and sweating his tail off,” Peery explained. “That was the lesson I taught those kids. Even though he’s a great player, he works hard every time he’s on the court. It meant a lot for the kids to learn that lesson.”

“It’s pretty cool,” Peery said. “With our older group laying two-on-two, it’s just something different for them. They’re having fun and they’re getting to compete with an NBA player.”

The Thunder’s first round draft pick in 2012, Jones spent this season in both Oklahoma City and Tulsa with the Thunder and 66ers, discovering first-hand the hospitality and care the community gives to the Thunder organization as a whole. This summer he’ll be staying in town to work out with his teammates, all while relishing opportunities to come out to visit members of the community to give back. To Jones, today’s camp session was a perfect chance to help brighten the days of Oklahoma City youths.

“I hope it means a lot to them, but I really do it just to put a smile on their faces,” Jones said. “I just gave them a chance to see how hard NBA players work.”

These Thunder Youth Basketball camps will be held throughout the summer and stick to a well-crafted plan to help kids learn core basketball skills and concepts. The week starts with rule-based fundamentals and the week goes on the instructors introduce basic skills like passing, shooting form and dribbling. To round out the week, the campers are able to take on more complexities of the game like cross over dibbles, ball moves and team offensive concepts.

Even from just one afternoon at camp, Jones could tell that the lessons being learned and spot visits from Thunder players would pay dividends as the kids continued to learn the game.

“I know it helps a lot having NBA players come in, telling you what to do and helping you out,” Jones said. “Especially playing one-on-one or playing games with them, that really encourages them a lot more.”