NRHS camp develops young stars

Published 8:25 pm Saturday, June 30, 2012

By Titus Mohler


A new crop of young stars took to the basketball court at a Suffolk high school last week during a camp designed to hone their skills and let the school’s coaches get a look at the talent that’s coming up through the ranks.


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Nansemond River varsity basketball coach Ed Young hosted the eighth annual edition of his Youngstarz basketball camp for third through eighth graders last week at Nansemond River High School.

The camp, which usually involves about 60 local kids, has proven to be of real benefit, both to the kids, helping them learn new skills, and to the coaches as well, giving them a chance to scout out future Warriors.

With the initial entry fee, the event functions as a fundraiser for NR’s basketball program.

The camp ran Monday through Thursday.

“And I tell parents that we go 8 to 5 — that’s a full day of basketball,” Young said. “Yeah, there’s breaks here and there, but we play one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three, hot shot, foul shooting, and at the end of the day, we play five-on-five.”

“Hot shot” gives players 60 seconds to shoot from different locations on the court, each location being worth a certain number of points in the game.

The third through fifth graders, dubbed Youngerstarz, play in their own league for camp games, as do the sixth through eighth graders, the Youngstarz.

Coach Young employs some adults, like team mom Keandra Hunter, who handled everything from finances to being a nurse to serving as peacemaker when tempers flared up among the kids.

Young also pays some of his current and former players to help out. Standout guard Shannon Evans, who graduated from NR earlier this month and is being courted by Division I schools, described some of his camp responsibilities.

“Refereeing, and in the morning, we go in stations, and I’m the scoring station,” he said. “I teach them how to shoot.”

Young does not seek out prodigies for this camp, but rather he aims to help the novices.

“My camp is probably geared towards the beginner, intermediate type player,” he said. “I think we could challenge a better player here, but it’s really not geared towards that.”

The genesis of this event was found in many other camps that Young had been involved in over the years.

“Well, a long time ago, when I started to get into coaching, I used to work camps up and down the East Coast — eight, nine camps a summer,” he said. “(I’d) travel all over the place. I was at Syracuse University, Georgetown, University of Maryland, Penn State University, Famous Five Star Camp, Hoop Group Camp, the BC Camp.”

In his 20 years of coaching, Young estimates he has participated in around 300 camps. After starting at Nansemond River, his fifth high school, Young decided the time was ripe to start a camp of his own.

“Called it Youngstarz, a play on my name and, of course, the young kids,” he said. “And I wanted to have it where there was fun, there was some structure, and there was some learning going on.”

Third grader Koron Hunter said he was enjoying the camp.

“Playing five-on-five basketball,” was his favorite part, he said. “I have more partners to help me out.”

He also indicated that he had learned a valuable skill at the camp: dribbling.

And the learning last week did not just take place on the court.

“Each day we go in the classroom 20 to 30 minutes,” Young said.

There, he explains things to the kids like how being a better student and person not only makes them a better player, but it benefits them in life, as well. Young said that this time helps give the camp more value to kids who do not plan to play basketball in school.

For those who are interested in the sport, though, the benefits of the event are substantial.

“We’ve had kids in our program that started out in a Youngstarz camp,” Young said.

“I was in this camp, actually, going into my seventh grade year,” Shannon Evans said. “And it’s a really good camp. When I was here, Andre Jones, Nick Wright, Quinton McDuffie, Kenny Hart — all of them (were) working the camp.”