Saturday, July 14, 2007

Damien Wilkins Basketball Camp

Sonics radio pre- and post-game host Francis Williams checks in with this guest blog about his experience at the Damien Wilkins Basketball Camp.

Greetings from Washington, North Carolina, the home of the Washington High School Paw Pack. Washington is also the hometown of Sonics swingman Damien Wilkins. The first Damien Wilkins Basketball Camp was held here this week. The four day camp was free and was attended by nearly 100 kids. Damien allowed me to serve as his camp director.

The co-ed camp was held in two sessions with grades 6-8 attending the morning session and grades 9-12 in the afternoon. Each day kids were given instruction in the fundamentals of the game. Five teaching stations were the order of the day with shooting, ball handling and passing, rebounding, individual offense and individual defense being the points of emphasis. Damien was present each day to oversee things and was very hands on with giving instruction, words of advice, and encouragement. The second half of the camp session was devoted to playing games. Team play and defense were stressed and improvement was made by all the teams in those areas by week's end.

The camp concluded on Friday with all-star games being held for the girls as a combined morning and afternoon group. After the morning session of boys had an all-star game, then came the highlight of the week. The afternoon session boys played against Damien’s all-star team, which was comprised of former high school players from the Washington area. It was a very spirited and hard-fought game with Damien’s all-stars surviving two three-point attempts in the final seconds to hold on for a 61-58 win.

The festivities did not end with the basketball camp. On Saturday, the third annual Damien Wilkins Fun Day was held at the playfield of the old PS Jones Middle School. The playfield is directly across the street from the Boys and Girls Club, where many of the kids who participated in the camp are members. Danian Carr and the staff of the Boys and Girls Club played a huge part in getting kids pre-registered for camp. Food, music, games, and lots of good ole Southern fun in the sun make it a highlight of the summer in Washington. It is a sincere and genuine gesture on Damien’s part to come and give back to the community in which he spent most of his formative years. All the cost is covered by Damien and the entire community is invited.

Washington is a town of about 9,800 people in the inland coastal region of North Carolina, about 125 miles east of Raleigh in Beaufort County. The Wilkins family has a strong presence in the community as both Dominique (uncle) and Gerald (dad), former NBA stars, played at Washington High School. A large number of Damien’s relatives including his mother and younger brother were on hand to lend support, some coming from as far away as Maryland and Georgia. Damien moved away in the seventh grade but still considers Washington to be home. His grandmother, who is 92, still resides in Washington.

Chris Wilcox also held a camp and a community day this week in his hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina. Sonics 40th Anniversary Team member Sam Perkins will hold his camp starting Thursday in Chapel Hill. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Tar Heel state and look forward to doing it again next year.