Terps’ Jack­son, Obi visit SMCM bas­ket­ball camp

Md. play­ers drop by Chris Har­ney Bas­ket­ball School

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By MICHAEL REID mreid@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @SOMDhab­s­fan

Justin Jack­son wasn’t feel­ing much love dur­ing an au­to­graph ses­sion with Univer­sity of Mary­land men’s bas­ket­ball team­mate Sean Obi on July 19 at the Chris Har­ney Bas­ket­ball School, which was at St. Mary’s Col­lege of Mary­land.

Au­to­graph seek­ers, which pre­sented ev­ery­thing from bas­ket­balls, shoes and even a cell­phone — “I don’t want to get you in trou­ble,” Obi said. — to the two Ter­rap­ins, were so in awe of re­ceiv­ing pho­tos from Obi that many of them for­got to ask for one from Jack­son as well.

But Jack­son and Obi were pleased to stop by the camp, which is now in its 13th year, and of­fer en­cour­age­ment to the 100 campers ages 7 to 18.

“I re­mem­ber my­self in that same spot be­ing in a sum­mer camp and if I had a mes­sage for the kids it’s just to keep your head on straight,” said Jack­son, who ap­peared in all 33 games and av­er­aged 10.5 points and a team-high six re­bonds per game. “It’s al­ways im­por­tant to strive and be the best you can be. I was just try­ing to re­as­sure them that they have an op­por­tu­nity and they have a chance. A lot of kids some­times don’t think they have a chance and that can dis­cour­age them, but at the end of the day you have to just keep work­ing and be­liev­ing.”

Obi trans­ferred from Duke and will suit up for the Terps for his fi­nal year of el­i­gi­bil­ity next sea­son.

“It’s al­ways a priv­i­lege to be able to talk to kids who as­pire to play at the col­lege level and I’m more than happy to help kids the best way I can,” Obi said. “[They should] keep be­liev­ing and do what they love and work hard in school and work their very hard­est at it.”

Obi started play­ing bas­ket­ball in 2010 when he moved to the United States from Nige­ria and missed all of last year fol­low­ing off­sea­son knee surgery.

“Coach al­ways tells us, ‘Fo­cus on things you can do and do it well to the best of your abil­i­ties,’” Obi said. “Don’t be who you’re not. Don’t try to be Steph Curry, it’s very im­por­tant to stick to the fun­da­men­tals. Try to be your­self and learn ev­ery day.”

The week-long camp is run by St. Mary’s head men’s bas­ket­ball coach Chris Har­ney.

“Num­ber one we want the kids to love bas­ket­ball more than the first day they came to camp and we want them to re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate what’s great about bas­ket­ball, which is a group of peo­ple work­ing to­gether to achieve a goal,” Har­ney said. “The sec­ond thing is we want to make them bet­ter play­ers and im­prove their skill by teach­ing them the ba­sics and fun­da­men­tals.”

Tripp Ba­garus, a ris­ing ju­nior at Hunt­ing­town High School, has at­tended the camp the last eight years, this one is his first as a coun­selor.

“I started com­ing here and I just had a lot of fun,” said Ba­garus, who played for the Hur­ri­canes’ ju­nior var­sity squad his first two years but hopes to make the var­sity team this year. “I started to re­ally love the game be­cause of this camp. I’ve been to a bunch of other camps, but this is my fa­vorite camp be­cause it’s fun, you learn and all of the coun­selors get into the games and it’s al­ways fun and com­pet­i­tive. Ev­ery sin­gle year I’d learn a new thing and I’d grad­u­ally get bet­ter.”

Play­ers Kyle Wag­ner and Re­becca Allen are each re­peat par­tic­i­pants.

“I would do other camps, but [oth­ers] rec­om­mended this camp. My par­ents thought it was re­ally good and it is,” said Allen, a 5-foot-9 ris­ing fresh­man at Leonard­town High School. “Peo­ple can work one-on-one with you. I al­ways love play­ing bas­ket­ball and I think I’m get­ting bet­ter at it. I’ve def­i­nitely got­ten bet­ter at my left-hand layup and I’m hop­ing to im­prove my three-point shots.”

“It’s fun and we learn stuff and I want to get bet­ter so I can try and go to col­lege and the NBA,” said Wag­ner, a ris­ing sixth-grader who at­tends Spring Ridge Mid­dle School in Lex­ing­ton Park. “I wanted to im­prove my de­fense and I’ve done that and it’s fun. There’s a lot of peo­ple to play with in­stead of play­ing alone.”

Jack­son and Obi were ac­com­pa­nied by first-year Ter­rap­ins stu­dent-man­ager Alex O’Neill, a 2015 St. Mary’s Ryken High School grad­u­ate.

“Be­ing able to work with and in­ter­act with the play­ers ev­ery day and help aid in our suc­cess and truly be a part of the teams suc­cess is amaz­ing,” said O’Neill, who trans­ferred to Mary­land from Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land. “I al­ways wanted to go to Mary­land be­cause I love the school and get­ting this job is just ic­ing on the cake.”

O’Neill, who was also a man­ager un­der for­mer SMR head boys bas­ket­ball coach Pa­trick Be­han, said as­pir­ing play­ers “have to be able to learn and ac­cept they don’t know ev­ery­thing. They need to be coach­able and be able to go to the gym and prac­tice when not ev­ery­one is do­ing it.”

Har­ney said Day 1 of the camp — an­other ses­sion ran this week — is spent eval­u­at­ing play­ers.

“We push [the ad­vanced play­ers] to reach their ceil­ing and then we may have a be­gin­ner player and we help them al­most like train­ing wheels on a bike to learn the game and not be in­tim­i­dated if they’re mak­ing mis­takes,” said Har­ney, who has al­most a 3-to-1 ra­tio of campers to coun­selors. “We try and coach them to a level that’s higher than where they’re at. We don’t want this to be a roll-the-ball-out-and-playgames-all-day-and-teach­noth­ing kind of camp. We want this to be a teach­ing camp.”

STAFF PHOTO BY MICHAEL REID

Univer­sity of Mary­land men’s bas­ket­ball play­ers Justin Jack­son, left, and Sean Obi talk to the play­ers at the Chris Har­ney Bas­ket­ball School at St. Mary’s Col­lege of Mary­land.

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