Whittington Visits First Summer Hoops Tour Stop
By Daniel Massa | Pacers.com
The Indiana Pacers Summer Hoops Tour, presented by McDonald’s and Gatorade, made its first stop of the summer today at Mooresville High School in Mooresville. The tour, which is slated to run through this week at different locations around the central Indiana area, is operated by the Indiana Pacers Youth Basketball Program and open to boys and girls, ages 8 to 14.
The participants engaged in a six-hour program that featured fundamental basketball skill instruction and advice on fitness and healthy eating, as well as visits from a couple of special guests from the Pacers and Indiana Fever.
PHOTO GALLERY: Summer Hoops Tour Day 1 »
Pacers second-year big man Shayne Whittington made an hour-long appearance along with Fever forward Lynetta Kizer, much to the joy of all 119 kids in attendance. For Whittington, who played his college ball at Western Michigan University, it was a role reversal of sorts, and one he didn’t take lightly.
"When I was younger this was something that I always looked up to," Whittington said. "At Western [Michigan] actually, where I went to school at, I would always go to those camps. It was something that drove me to love the game, drove me to be good at the game. It was something that really kind of motivated me, seeing actual athletes, actual players be out here interacting with everybody."
It didn’t take Whittington long after he arrived last year to notice just how basketball-crazed the surrounding area and state are. This camp, and the energy showed by the kids, represented the same passion.
"It’s great," he exclaimed. "Everybody in Indy is loving basketball, it’s different in Michigan, which is more of a hockey [and] football kind of area. But basketball in Indy, there’s nothing else like it."
Whittington participated in a Q-and-A session with the campers before group photos and a rotation through several different fundamental drills, which included him running through a passing drill, with most of the campers only interested in pleading him to show them how he dunks a basketball.
He left the campers with one final message, some advice about doing your best and always seeking improvement. He told them to start asking themselves at the end of every day what they did to make themselves better.
"You can ask that about basketball, about life or about anything," he said.
Sticking true to his message, Whittington has been working hard to improve going into his second NBA season. He played in two games in last week’s Orlando Summer League, averaging 12 points and 6.5 rebounds in 26.5 minutes per game.
"Right now it’s just making myself better, trying to be the best player for this possible situation with the Pacers," he said. "We want to start running up and down the floor a little bit more so I’m going to try and work on my skills that complement that kind of gameplay."
The Summer Hoops Tour continues tomorrow at Indianapolis Metropolitan High School, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.