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A look at basketball summer camp at UNC

The Carolina Way starts at a young age.

North Carolina Tar Heels Championship Welcome Rally Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

The development of successful college basketball players does not begin in October when the season starts or in August when freshmen arrive. It does not commence, for most players, in high school. It starts much earlier.

The same is true for the Carolina Way. Earlier this week, Jake Lawrence published an excellent story on the building of the Carolina football family atmosphere and the development of the Carolina Way. A simple but meaningful summertime activity, the Freak Show, has served as a catalyst to springboard interest in the team, skill development, and the establishment of a positive atmosphere.

In basketball, there are a number of annual summertime events. Pick-up games that match current players against students or famous alums are an incredible experience for those lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. Even better is the opportunity to actually play on the court. For two weeks the school holds Roy Williams Basketball Camp. If you don’t think that the camp matters to the school and the athletes, then perhaps you have forgotten that Justin Jackson attended Coach Williams’ camp.

Additionally, there are numerous clinics including Antawn Jamison’s All-Star Camp. This two-day event is available to boys and girls ages 7-17. The camp provides an opportunity for young people to develop their skills and for the school to showcase its coaches, its facilities, and most importantly, its developing leaders and role models. These are lessons that stick with the players and their families.

To get an in-depth look at what Antawn’s All-Star Camp means to the players that attend it, I caught up with two boys I know who recently returned home from a fantastic two days. This was the second year attending for brothers 12-year-old Tommy and 10-year-old Tyler.

Tell me about Antawn as a coach.

Tyler: He’s very nice. He helps you but doesn’t say you’re wrong all the time. He doesn’t get mad at you. He’s a really good shooter.

Tommy: He makes you do 10 push-ups if you dribble the ball when you are not supposed to.

The camp activities consisted of drills in stations, games of 3v3, 4v4, and lunch (everyone’s favorite), 5v5, and more skill sessions. Additionally, the kids were treated to guest speakers Joel Berry II and Tyler Hansbrough (young Tyler’s favorite player, who he asked, “What was it like playing on a team with two Tylers? Response, “It was easy, they called Tyler Zeller “Z”). Both boys reported that the camp was a lot of fun and that they were confident the skills would help them improve.

What was it like playing basketball in the Dean E. Smith Center?

Tommy: It’s pretty cool. To me, I sort of felt some of the energy the players feel.

Tyler: It’s really great because you think of all the cool moments that happened on the court while you are standing there.

Did you make any 3’s on the Smith Center floor?

Tommy: I made one.

Tyler: Yeah, I made one.

Tommy: I actually made a couple.

During their time on the court, the boys got to meet Theo Pinson, Joel Berry II, Luke Maye, Sean May, Tyler Hansbrough, and Cameron Johnson among others. When I asked for the scouting report on Cameron Johnson, the boys commented that “He’s really tall, he’s very social, and he lies about dunking. He says he can’t dunk but we are pretty sure he can.” All of the players made themselves readily available for pictures and photographs.

Who was your favorite player to meet?

Tommy: Luke Maye, because he made lots of history for UNC.

Tyler: One shot is not a lot of history, Tommy.

Tommy: One shot versus Kentucky to win the game was a whole lot.

The most important takeaway from the camp for the parents is the positive attitude that all players and coaches demonstrated throughout. Watching them on TV, listening to commentators break down their every tendency, and analyzing metrics on their performances can make players seem less human at times. These camps provide an important opportunity to teach young people how important character is and what it means to be a role model.

What was most impressive about the players?

Tommy: The camp shows their character and personality. They don’t just care about themselves.

Tyler: They don't just care about the basketball season. They are not selfish.

This is the family that is Carolina basketball.