Orton Drops by Thunder Basketball Camp

It was long after the camp’s organized activities were over, but Daniel Orton was still traversing from basket to basket at the Thunder Events Center in Edmond.

At a youth camp on Friday morning, Orton stopped by to help a group of five-to-eight year-old children learn the game of basketball and have some fun. Along with their coaches, Keaton Peery and Alex Moorehead, Orton taught the campers a number of different basic skills, from jump shots to dribbling.

“I can see how this can be beneficial to kids like this at such a young age,” Orton said. “Just (encouraging) the work ethic to work hard at whatever you do.”

While children at this age often need entertainment to keep them focused, Orton and the coaches managed to keep the kids engaged with a variety of basketball drills and games. The camp started with shooting drills on a lowered goal helping the campers learn mechanics, then moved into a fun “knockout” competition, in which Orton participated. Mixing drills with games is a perfect way to both teach and ensure that the kids have fun, but is also a crucial aspect to Peery and Moorehead’s ability to help campers learn.

“With just the basic fundamentals of basketball, they can go a long way,” Moorehead said. “If they learn the fundamentals now and specialize in them, they’ll be great later on. We’re trying to teach them that fundamentals are very, very important.”

The children had fun working on their dibbling next, incorporating a speed dribble drill along with one where the kids had to stop-and-start, throwing in a “Go Thunder!” chant in between. To close the organized portion of the session out, the campers competed in a dribbling “knockout” game, with the winner being the one who could keep their dribble longest. Parents in attendance, like Brad Bandy, father of five-year-old Layne, were thrilled at the content and style of the camp, in addition to Orton’s appearance and attention to each child.

“I’ve been really impressed with coach Keaton and coach Alex,” Bandy said. “This is a really fundamental basketball camp. It’s not just to keep kids entertained. They’re actually teaching fundamental skills. They’re having fun. We’ve been really impressed with the camp.”

“Daniel is so cool,” Bandy continued. “He’s just engaging people and he’s just been so natural. He’s having a good time and is just a good dude. It was really cool. It wasn’t just an appearance, it was really just hanging out and having fun together. We were really excited and happy about it.”

The Thunder will be hosting camps for the entirety of the summer in Oklahoma City, aside from the week of July 4th and the following week when the team will host camp in Tulsa. Thunder players will be active in the community throughout the summer, and that ability to give back is something to cherish. As he signed autographs and took pictures, Orton had a broad smile on his face. The Oklahoma City native, who couldn’t have imagined an NBA franchise in his city as a child, made sure to make the day of each child and to spend as much time with them as possible.

“Whether it’s being at a school or being at a camp, they love to see NBA players,” Orton said.


Orton’s appearances in the community this week will also spill over into Saturday morning as he takes part in the Walk to End Lupus Now 2013 walk, which starts at the Oklahoma City Zoo at 8:30 a.m. The event has special meaning to Orton and is something he cares about deeply. The Thunder center has been very active in promoting the event and plans to be there bright and early.

“It took my mother’s life, so it’s huge,” Orton said. “It’s something that I want to do not only for myself but for other people, to interact by those who have Lupus and have been affected by it.”