Even though he is still young in his NBA career with the Boston Celtics, former Bellarmine Prep star Avery Bradley felt it was important to come back and be an example to the local youth. The result was the first annual Avery Bradley Basketball Camp, which hosted boys and girls from 6 to 15 years old at Foss High School on Aug. 13-16.
“It’s exciting for me to be able to get a chance to give back to the community,” said Bradley, who at age 21 will be going into his third year with the Celtics this fall. “Growing up I didn’t have a chance to go to any NBA players’ camps, so I felt like it was important for me to put a camp on for kids to go to and look forward to.”
In collaboration with Joe Smith and J Smith Hoops Enterprises, which holds camps throughout the nation, Bradley hosted about 130 local children from around the region at the Falcons’ main gym and secondary gym.
“We have kids from all walks of the Tacoma area,” said Smith, who is based in Alabama. “They told us coming in that this was a hotbed for basketball. We have some really, really good players here – and above average from what I see at a normal camp.”
Campers were divided into groups and run through various drills, which touched on topics like free throw shooting, defense and making cuts off the ball, among many others. Drills also included competitions like the classic game bump, with winners from each group matched up against each other in a final competition to earn prizes.
“The key thing we do is we show them a lot of skills and fundamentals, and try to have them do it in competitions so they can do it in games,” Smith said. “It’s been really successful, this model we take everywhere. When you have competitions, it keeps kids focused and into it.”
And while Bradley is rehabbing shoulder injuries during the offseason and cannot take part in any basketball activities, he was still able to socialize and relate to the players.
“That’s another reason why I think this is important, because I can give these kids pointers but not only that, give them hope,” Bradley said. “A lot of these kids, I was in the same spot they were. We all went to the same middle schools, so I just want to show these kids that if they put their mind to it, they can do it.”
“It’s exciting for me to be able to get a chance to give back to the community. Growing up I didn’t have a chance to go to any NBA players’ camps, so I felt like it was important for me to put a camp on for kids to go to and look forward to.” -Avery Bradley
Another key cog in the camp becoming a reality was Foss head coach Mike Cocke, who was contacted by Bradley’s AAU coach – who also coaches current Falcons’ star Dezmyn Trent – about holding the camp at his school. Cocke was able to work it out with school officials, and Trent and Falcon teammate Olashawan Miller were among the Foss players who served as coaches at the camp.
Bradley, meanwhile, hopes to eventually hold camps near the University of Texas – where he played college ball – and in Boston, but does not lose sight of what is most important to him.
“Even if I go other places, I’ll probably do one here,” Bradley said. “We’re definitely looking to expand – this is just a start.”