At Thunder Youth Camp, It's All About Learning The Little Things

The Osborn family vacation was supposed to last just a week.

Come back home to Oklahoma City, visit family and return to Lafayette, La., where they moved to five years ago.

But when they heard that the Thunder Youth Basketball Camp would be going on this week, that plan was scrapped. Their six-year-old son, Mason, who introduces himself with a firm handshake and responds to his elders with a “yes, sir” wanted to learn from the pros. And so it would be.

Mason and 35 other local and out of state kids, ranging in age from five to 16, completed their second day of camp at the Santa Fe Family Life Center on Tuesday, when the Thunder Thought Of The Day was “Pass The Basketball.”

A day earlier, Mason received a medal for doing just that.

At the Thunder Youth Basketball Camp, it’s all about stressing the fundamentals.

“I think it’s very organized and I love the discipline and the skills,” said Mason’s mother, Chelsee Osborn. “I’m very impressed. Just an example: tucking their t-shirts in every day – I think that’s very good for children to learn that discipline.”

Tulsa 66ers head coach Nate Tibbetts, who is in Oklahoma City this summer to work with the Thunder coaching staff, has been the point man for the last two days of camp. On Tuesday, he was flanked by a handful of Thunder basketball operations personnel and local coaches during the afternoon session. In the morning, Thunder assistant coach Rex Kalamian helped run the camp.

Because of the large presence of coaches, kids were able to receive ample 1-on-1 attention. On one end of the floor, a group of kids were emphatically going through defensive stances. On the other end, campers were learning how to shoot off of curls.

Tibbetts said it brings him back to his childhood, when he followed his late father, a basketball coach of 33 years, to basketball camps all summer long throughout South Dakota. He said this camp is about two things: having fun and doing things the right way.

“We want these kids to be not only good basketball players some day but hopefully good people,” he said. “That’s the way the Thunder is doing it. Yesterday we watched the video of seven different things the Thunder is trying to do and the most important ones are being a good teammate, sharing the basketball, helping each other out, playing defense, doing the little things. And I think the kids are hopefully buying into it and seeing something important in it.”

Mason Osborn seemed to have bought into it from the get-go. After the first day of camp, he asked his mother if he can attend the Thunder Youth Basketball Camp every summer.

“This is Mason’s first experience at a basketball camp and I have to say, this will be tough to beat,” Chelsee Osborn said. “He’s loved it.”

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