Camp Coaches Help Shape Young Players

Many NBA players had a strong and supportive presence in their basketball journeys. For Daniel Orton it was his father and some of his coaches. On Tuesday, he had the opportunity to make an imprint as he joined the coaches at a Thunder Youth Basketball Camp at Yukon High School.

Giving back to the community is a huge goal within the Thunder, but it is also a part of the organization’s duty as an NBA club to help advance the game of basketball at all levels in Oklahoma. By reaching out to former Oklahoma City-area high school standouts to lead the camps, the Thunder has provided an environment of learning and fun.

One of the camp’s coaches, Alex Moorehead, was a high school teammate of Orton at Bishop McGuinness High School, and he’s gone on to play in the collegiate and professional ranks. When Orton strolled into the building the former teammates shared a hug and respect for both of their commitment to mentoring Oklahoma youths.

“It’s good to see him working with Oklahoma’s youth and installing his knowledge into them,” Orton said.

“It’s always a fun time, especially when Daniel shows up, having somebody in the NBA,” Moorehead said. “(The kids) look up to people like Daniel so it’s always a good thing. They look at him and they see what we’re teaching and they listen a little bit more, so that’s always better.”

Joining Orton and Moorehead at the camps all summer has been Stephen Burge, the former point guard of the Carl Albert High School team that won a state title. Burge said that he has particularly enjoyed teaching not only fundamentals like passing, shooting and dribbling, but also some of the details of the game that helped his team win games to the youngsters at the week-long camps. Between Moorehead and Burge, along with the other coaches and visits from Thunder players, campers are getting assistance from high quality instructors.

“I grew up playing basketball and I had coaches share the game with me,” Burge said. “It’s just wonderful to share the game with them and teach them skills that I’ve learned, watch them smile and have fun playing the game.”

“It’s huge to have people who actually know what they’re talking about,” Orton said. “Coaches who have been around the game and have learned from other people who know what they’re talking about also.”

After all, NBA players like Orton may have had special natural ability, but their skills were honed and developed thanks to the guidance they got from parents, coaches and mentors during their childhood. To Orton, giving the kids motivation and inspiration through his words is always an important aspect of Thunder Youth Basketball Camps, while the coaches focus on tangible goals like seeing the progression of a child who struggled with dribbling on Monday to be able to dribble confidently with their head up on Friday.

The five-to-16 year olds in attendance learn the importance of hard work and a strong mental attitude in addition to the central tenets of proper basketball play, which makes for a full, productive week at Thunder Youth Basketball Camp.

“If they can learn those basic fundamentals, they have the opportunity to go to college, be very good in high school or possibly play in the NBA,” Moorehead said.