Richard A. Rowe | OKC Thunder Photo

Thabeet Helps Kids with the Fundamentals

By Nick Gallo | Thunder Basketball Writer

He may have been taking one step for each of the kids’ three paces, but on Tuesday, Hasheem Thabeet walked in stride with kids at the Thunder Youth Basketball Camp.

Through a variety of drills like shooting, dribbling, ball-handling and footwork, Thabeet and his booming voice encouraged each camper to keep working and trying to improve their skills. At one point, Thabeet noticed that a young girl in the camp hadn’t had a turn to go through the drill, and made sure to pull her up to the front of the line to get her chance. With his kind heart and personality, it’s no surprise that Thabeet made fast friends with the campers in attendance as he helped out the coaches at each station. At the end, he even threw down a dunk, much to the campers’ delight.

“There’s a lot of fun kids over there,” Thabeet said. “It’s a great camp. The kids who come out here and learn something. They get the chance to see us and it’s always great.”

The Thunder Youth Basketball Camps are being held all summer, with this week’s camp serving as the second of ten total week-long sessions. This week’s camp was open to kids aged 10-16, while the Junior camps are held for children aged 5-9. There are also two “flex” camps this summer, which will host kids from ages 5-16.

Each camp participant receives a Thunder Youth Basketball t-shirt, a $10 voucher for the Thunder Shop and a basketball, but most importantly, instruction from qualified instructors and on days like today, Thunder players. For Thabeet, the ability to focus and take in what the coaches say was the most critical lesson he wanted to impart to the campers.

“At this age it is more about paying attention to detail,” Thabeet explained. “A whole lot of times the coaches will be speaking and they get interrupted and distracted with everything very easily. Paying attention is a big key at this age.”

The camp is run by Thunder Youth Basketball Coordinator Keeton Peery, along with coaches who have high school, collegiate and even professional playing experience. The focus during today’s session at camp was the fundamentals of the game – from pivoting to the triple-threat stance to the crossover dribble. Thabeet ran through the drills right alongside the campers, showing them that even NBA players have to stick to the simple, core components of the game in order to stay sharp.

“Basketball is complex but the basic building blocks of the game are super simple,” Peery explained. “We stress to the kids a lot the fundamentals. They go across all levels.”

“Even though a crossover seems so simple or a pivot seems so simple to them now, these NBA guys in their workouts are doing the exact same thing,” Peery said. “Fundamentals are so key. Even as you get older and get better, fundamentals are still a basic part of the game and have to get worked on.”

Despite the season ending for the Thunder just over a week ago, Thabeet felt the urge to get back out on the basketball floor- not for his own workout, but to give back to local youths. Thabeet feels his two seasons in Oklahoma City have been extremely rewarding and he’s enjoyed the community, which is why he’s sticking around this summer to not only improve his game, but also to help grow the game of basketball in the area.

“Growing up I didn’t have a chance to do stuff like this,” Thabeet said. “So for me just to have this chance to come back and actually give back to these kids is great. It’s a great opportunity for me and for them to get to learn something.”

To view the full schedule and register for Thunder Youth Basketball Summer Camps, visit: http://www.nba.com/thunder/corporatenews/youthcamps_140403

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