Basketball camp stresses other skills

Michael Lewis walked slowly across the gym floor. He kept his eyed fixed ahead as he dribbled a basketball in each hand.

Chris Smoak-Brown practices his dribbling skills at the Elite Athletes Basketball Academy camp at Murphey Middle School.  Charmain Z. Brackett/Correspondent
Charmain Z. Brackett/Correspondent
Chris Smoak-Brown practices his dribbling skills at the Elite Athletes Basketball Academy camp at Murphey Middle School.

The rising eighth-grader at Sego Middle School attended last week's Elite Athletes Basketball Academy at Murphey Middle School to sharpen his skills.

"It's been good," he said. "I've learned I can take contact and I worked on my dribbling skills, shooting skills."

This is the second year Jabari Levi, the executive director of Elite Athletes, has offered the camp. Mr. Levi is the graduation coach at Butler High School and the basketball coach at Murphey Middle School. He formed Elite Athlete as a nonprofit organization.

About 45 middle and high school pupils attended the weeklong camp. Some came from as far away as Waycross, Savannah and Atlanta. Almost every Richmond County middle school was represented.

Chris Smoak-Brown, a rising eighth-grader at Tutt Middle School, attended the camp last summer and felt it helped him during his basketball season.

"The footwork drills and shooting drills" helped, he said.

In addition to working on the players' techniques, Mr. Levi wanted to work on their character.

"The motto is, 'It's not your ability, it's your effort,' " he said. "Some have ability; some do not. Hard work is important."

Mr. Levi brought in special guests to talk about real-life issues. A law enforcement officer spoke about staying out of trouble. There were sessions on HIV/AIDS awareness and on the importance of good nutrition. Also, some young professionals talked about starting a business.

Mr. Levi said a number of business sponsors helped him put the camp together.

Mr. Levi said he planned to do the camp again next summer, but he may have to expand.

"My goal every year is to have about 40 (participants), because we only have one gym," he said. "I'll probably be going to two camps."

Reach Charmain Brackett at czbrackett@hotmail.com.

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