SWAC players learn from NBA players in inaugural NBPA Top 50 camp
ATLANTA, Ga. — Taking into account more than just the game of basketball, nine players representing the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) descended on the campus of Morehouse College at the Franklin Forbes Arena and Archer Gyms to gain wisdom on leadership, life skills development and professionalism.
The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Top 50 Basketball Camp began their first full day on the courts Friday as players from the SWAC worked harmoniously in conjunction with the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) to bring together some of the best players from each conference.
Modeled after the NBPA’s Top 100 Camp, players received skill development sessions on the court from current and retired NBA players. Among those who offered their teachings were Assistant Memphis Grizzlies coach Shawn Respert (first Round, eighth pick in 1995 NBA draft by Portland), former Atlanta Hawk Kevin Willis (first round, 11th pick in the 1984 NBA draft), Jackson State alum Purvis Short (first round, fifth pick by Portland in 1978), and current New York Knicks forward Kyle O’Quinn (HBCU Norfolk State alum).
“The main focus is two-fold,” said Short, who is also currently the NBPA Chief of Player Programs.
“Number one, from a skill development standpoint, we would like to see them learn to expand their overall game. [Number two] From an off-the court standpoint, we want them to develop a solid foundation as far as professionalism and leadership. They can make such a difference at their schools, in their communities, and just in how they treat one another.”
Approached by SWAC commissioner Duer Sharp and SIAC commissioner Gregory Moore, Short said each were looking for a way in which we could work together.
“For me, personally, I was thrilled and excited because I went to a HBCU and we don’t always get the same attention and focus as other conferences,” Short said.
“With the way that it has worked out, I am enthusiast. People from the NBA are getting involved. [Former NBA coach] Bernie Bickerstaff is here. Kevin Willis stopped by and it’s just taken on its own life.”
Willis, who played in the NBA until the age of 44, pointed to his chest and talked about his heart being one of the most important things that matters if you’re going to make it in the pros.
Respert discussed the importance of character during Thursday’s orientation and pointed out how teams would rather have a “B” talent with high character rather than an “A” talent with poor character.
NBA players/coaches opened the camp activities on Friday by asking the basketball campers to show them how they ran with their arms.
After almost of the players demonstrated how they ran with their arms outwardly in front of them, the coaches explained that there’s a much more efficient method. Instead, they explained, that they should be running with their arms at a 90-degree angle and further behind them.
Coaches covered a broad range of topics, stressing the proper defensive stance, how to run a more effective pick and roll on offense and the importance of leaving it all on the floor. The day also included chalk talk presentations for life skills and wrapped up with a two-hour block of games between the group.
Saturday will be the final day of the camp and will run from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. It is closed to the public.