Clifford, Isaac Surprise Magic Youth Academy Basketball Campers

by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO - Jonathan Isaac, one of the Magic’s blossoming young players, is on a mission both on the court and in the community.

On the court, where he averaged nearly 12 points and six rebounds over Orlando’s last 30 regular season games, the 6-foot-11 forward continues to sharpen his skills, add more attributes to his growing repertoire and improve his strength. He says he currently weighs 234 pounds, 25 pounds more than what he weighed when last season ended.

With all the work he is putting in this summer in the gym, the expectation is that Isaac will make an even greater impact on the hungry 2019-20 Magic, who are set to bring back most of last year’s team that won 17 more games than the prior season.

In the community, the 21-year-old is putting in serious work, too, which was on display on Thursday when he made a surprise appearance at a Magic Youth Academy Basketball Camp at the RDV Sportsplex.

Joined by Magic Head Coach Steve Clifford and Assistant General Manager Pete D’Alessandro, Isaac showed up at the camp to help motivate the children, talk with them about the importance of hard work and walk them through some basketball drills.

“It’s always fun, always fun to give back, always fun to see the excitement on the little kids’ faces when we come around,” Isaac said. “Just another thing to be excited about.”

Isaac had a huge smile on his face when he learned that some of the children were able to participate in the camp because of some excellent teamwork. Each season, the Magic and UnitedHealthcare partner together to provide 50 kids with full scholarships to attend Magic basketball camps.

“I think it’s awesome,” he said about the program, which is available each year to boys and girls of all skill levels, ages 6-17. “When I was a kid, I couldn’t afford to get into basketball camps. If I had this opportunity, I’d be super excited. I know my mom would be as well. I think it’s great and I think we should keep doing it.”

This wasn’t the first time that Isaac, who was named to USA Basketball’s Select Team earlier in the day, showed up unannounced at a Magic camp to inspire kids and give them some basketball tips. In fact, being out in the community has become an integral part of his life, recognized by the Magic organization last season when he and Aaron Gordon were named co-winners of the Rich & Helen DeVos Community Enrichment Award.

“I just think it’s great. I think it’s needed,” Isaac said. “I think the Magic do a great job of getting us active in the community. It’s something that I’m always going to want to continue to be able to do and I’m thankful that they push us to.”

Clifford, who played for his father when he was in high school, recalls how important camps were for him when he was first learning the game. Now as a coach at the highest level, the Island Falls, Maine native is ecstatic to be able to share his knowledge and experiences with kids while explaining to them that they have to be persistent and patient before seeing big results.

“I grew up where basketball was 12 months a year,” he said. “Camp is for learning. They’re not going to get a lot better in five days but it’s a great opportunity to learn more about the game.”

Magic Youth Academy Basketball Camps, which are offered throughout Central Florida during summer, winter and spring breaks, help young players reach their full potential and learn in a fun environment. Kids receive expert instruction from the National Basketball Academy, a camp T-shirt, a full-size NBA basketball, a Magic bag, a commemorative certificate of achievement and a ticket to a future Magic home game. For more information on camps or to register, please visit www.orlandomagic.com/summercamps.

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