Alex Lowry

Donovan Mitchell holds camp for 300 kids in Utah

by Aaron Falk

Long before he was the NBA’s Slam Dunk champ, a young Donovan Mitchell’s claim to fame was actually getting dunked on.

Mitchell was a kid, growing up in New York when he attended a summer basketball camp put on by then-Knicks forward David Lee.

“I remember that specifically—because he dunked on me,” Mitchell recalled. “That was my claim to fame: that an NBA player dunked on me.”

That fond memory has stuck with Mitchell over the years. So on Monday, the Utah Jazz star hoped to give about 300 kids their own special memories at the Donovan Mitchell Basketball Camp in Draper.

“I can relate,” he said, “and now I’m in a position where I’m the one that’s able to make these kids’ day or make their year.”

Campers weren’t treated to a Mitchell poster, despite breaking into a chant of “Dunk it! Dunk it!” The Jazz guard said he’s still easing his way back into above-the-rim activities after spending part of his summer rehabbing from a foot injury. But Mitchell said he’s about to begin two-a-day practices as he amps up his training.

“I’m getting back into it,” he said. “I kind of got into the process slow. There’s no need to rush it. But now I’m picking up the pace.”

Instead, Mitchell spent the day working with campers on their skills, playing rounds of knockout and a little one-on-one.

Mitchell hosted another youth basketball camp in Greenwich, Connecticut earlier in the summer. The Jazz guard credited his mother, Nicole Mitchell, for spearheading both camps.

“This is all her,” he said. “Sometimes I tell her she needs to slow down because she’s stressing herself out. But it’s all for me. It’s all love. We could easily have someone run the camp for us, but she likes to be hands-on. She’s a teacher. She gets kids and she gets how things are supposed to be run. To see her out there doing all of this is awesome. You can see now what she’s been doing my whole life, which is just trying to help me out any way possible.”

"We wanted to give back to the community, especially the Utah community that has embraced him so well,” Nicole Mitchell added.

Mitchell’s inaugural basketball camp sold out in a matter of hours. In coming years, Mitchell and his team plan to host a longer camp and allow more kids to register.

“This is awesome to get a chance to do this for the kids,” Mitchell said. “I just hope they have fun and enjoy it. Some of these kids have told me they’ve met me before. But some of these kids will never see me again. So, to give them that opportunity to come and play and work out, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”