Jones Joins in on the Fun

By Nick Gallo | Thunder Basketball Writer | mailbag@thunder-nba.com

Along the baseline at the Thunder Events Center, a dozen children sat, crawled and scrambled to get closer to the man in the middle, Thunder forward Perry Jones.

The third-year man stopped by the Thunder Youth Basketball Camp on Tuesday to bring some smiles and excitement to the already thrilling Junior Camp, where kids aged five to nine have a chance to learn the fundamentals of the game. When a Thunder player like Jones stops by, however, there’s also the opportunity for some one-on-one interaction and an always hilarious question-and-answer session.

“One kid told me he likes to go fishing,” Jones said. “He told me about this big fish he caught.”

“I told him I caught a shark,” Jones said with his patented wide smile, revealing that the closest he’s actually been to fishing is watching the Discovery Channel.

From dribbling to shooting to passing and defense, the kids at Junior Camp are learning the basics of the game. More intricate skills like closeouts, box-outs and other offensive and defensive principles will be left to when they’re grown up and can join the Youth Basketball Camps, which are for children aged 10-16.

Jones stepped in as an acting coach during Tuesday’s session, and joined former high school, collegiate and even professional players who help the children learn the basics of basketball. One such coach is Devan White, a former player at and graduate of OCU, who aspires to play on a professional level as his next move.

This summer, however, he’s devoted his time to giving back to the game. As someone who had been playing basketball ever since he was five years old, having the chance to teach kids at that same age is extremely rewarding.

“It’s something special to be able to help the kids and help them understand,” White said. “Basketball is a really important game to me and it helped me out as a young kid.”

“It’s important to understand the fundamentals, but at the end of the day the kids understand that it’s more about having fun,” White said. “It’s a blessing and a privilege to be able to play this game.”

The camps are filled with coaches just like White, whose attitudes are just as impressive as their basketball knowledge and abilities. Jones could fit right in with that group of coaches, as he could be seen sitting and chatting with campers one second then out at the free throw line a second later participating in a game of dribble knockout.

In the game, every camper tries to keep their ball alive while trying to steal the ball from those around them. Jones happily joined in on the action, and as the number of campers still dribbling dwindled, the 6’10” forward playfully dribbled around the kids, drawing smiles from campers, parents and coaches alike.

“Playing the knockout tag game we’ve been playing all day, that’s the most fun part,” Jones said. “I get to talk to them while I’m playing too, so it’s pretty cool.

Jones worked up a bit of a sweat on the court at the Thunder Events Center, but the workout paled in comparison to what he’s put himself through at the INTEGRIS Health Thunder Development Center this off-season. After a productive and successful Summer League, Jones underwent a minor knee surgery, so he’s been rehabbing vigorously to get back to full strength to continue his development. Heading into his third year, Jones knows that his playing time and opportunities will be based on his work and what he proves in practice.

“All we can do is go out there and work hard, earn minutes and do what we’ve been doing every day,” Jones said.

Click the following link for more information and to sign up for Thunder Youth Basketball Camps: http://www.nba.com/thunder/thunder-youth-basketball-grows