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InsideHoops [High School]

adidas Jr. Phenom Camp




| Sept. 22, 2006

2007 adidas Phenom Bootcamp Dates

Girls Arkansas: July 5-8, 2007
Boys Arkansas: July 12-15, 2007
Boys San Diego: July 19-22, 2007
Girls San Diego: July 26-29, 2007
Age Divisions: 9-11yrs/ 12-14yrs/ 15-16yrs

From Phenom Camp: Adidas Phenom Boot Camp is a fundamental skills development camp like no other in the country. We refer to it as boot camp because it is a basketball camp that concentrates on discipline, fundamentals and development! Most camps today concentrate on exposure; we will throw the society of basketball camps back into an “old school” mode. We will take the word “development” and turn into something special where not only will we teach you the fundamentals basketball skills for your basketball development, but we will go one step further, we will teach you life lessons that will lead toward character development for your “off the court” life.

2004 adidas Phenon Camp Review

| Aug 30, 2004

The adidas Junior Phenom Camp, featuring the top sixth, seventh and eighth grade basketball players in the country, took place earlier this month in San Diego. Jr. phenoms camp organizer Joe Keller proudly proclaimed that he had the "top 100 kids in AAU basketball" for this age level and had the talent on display in an inaugural event that may have provided a glimpse of some 2012 Olympians.

"We're going to try to grow this as big as the high school stuff," Keller boasted.

Although the idea of rating middle-school athletes is unseemly to many, it is one that is needed for the good of the game. Foreign countries routinely place youngsters in national training programs and - although America seems to adore its prodigy tennis players, gymnasts and piano players - basketball players have not received the same opportunity.

One proponent of the adidas jr. phenom camp is former Boston Celtics coach John Carroll, whose eighth-grade son Austin attended. Carroll was a guest lecturer at the event and spent the weekend living in a dorm with the campers - despite still collecting plenty of Celtics money.

"I hear people talk about the way it used to be 20 or 30 years ago, well there's a lot of things that have changed," Carroll said. "You can't go to the park like you did 20 or 30 years ago because no one goes to the park. (Jokingly) If you go to the park, you get shot.

"It's just a different animal than 20 or 30 years ago. You can talk about it, bitch about it complain about it or you can figure out how to integrate (yourself)."

The unusual camp - which was invitation-only - featured a $395 entry fee for every camper. However, that wasn't a concern for many parents who wanted to give their sons a chance to go head-to-head with the likes of Demetrius Walker - a Fontana, California native rated the best eighth grader in the country.

According to Carroll, the parents were part of the problem. Many parents stayed with their children in hotels, preventing the kids from the camaraderie of the dorm experience. During one of the games, a parent yelled, 'Don't pass it to him because he won't pass it back!"

Yet all the negativity involved is part of the growing process and it is something that Carroll wanted his son to experience.

"You are about to enter a world that is tainted," said Carroll, noting the age of the campers. "You've got to be careful about that. I try to tell him - you get a college letter from a college coach, that doesn't mean anything. It's a computer-generated letter sent to a thousand kids."

The adidas junior phenoms get noticed. Colleges are actually sending letters to these young athletes. Walker is said to have received his first college letter from Texas A&M at the age of 11. Kevin Bloom - a top guard prospect from Wolcottville, Indiana - received a letter from Syracuse.

"That's a little scary," one parent remarked.

Keller believes he has found a new niche to expand the influence of the shoe companies since Reebok and Nike may follow suit with their own middle-school camps. The competition is stiff, especially with Sonny Vaccaro's defection to Reebok.

"Sonny's going to do his thing, Nike's going to do their deal," said Keller, who also coaches a Team California club that includes Walker. "I just hope it doesn't get watered down."

College coaches publicly state that they have no interest in the camps because of the age of the athletes. But Keller indicated that San Diego State's staff made an appearance and Memphis coach John Calipari also planned to attend. If these events grow, colleges will have no choice but to staff them because of the negative repercussions of not showing up and gaining early contacts with these future stars. Although the event was held in a "dead" period, the athletes are non-recruitable, allowing college coaches freedom to attend.

No matter what the future holds, the present resulted in an interesting weekend of basketball that featured some promising talent. It provided an opportunity to see the passing wizardry of Jamison Sterns as well as the inside polish of fellow Texas seventh-grader Randy Collins, who was named the MVP of the seventh-grade All-Star game.

And although eighth graders like California's Aaron Moore, New Jersey's Dexter Strickland and Pennsylvania's Dalton Pepper all shined, the showdown between Walker and Maryland's LeShon Edwards will be a memory that may eventually play out on the hardwood on a higher level.

The 6-4 Edwards and 6-3 Walker went head-to-head in the eighth grade All-Star game and Edwards fared slightly better and parlayed a big first half into MVP honors. Both players are terrific athletes, although Walker is exceptional. But one key sequence defined the battle between the two. Edwards nailed a difficult jumper on Walker, who displayed great sportsmanship in patting his rival on the back.

It was a quintessential basketball junkie moment and may have been the initial stages of a terrific rivalry.

This is the value of giving youngsters a chance - the opportunity to develop their talent to the highest level. Here's hoping this trend continues so American ballplayers can continue to receive the structure and guidance they deserve.

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