Back to the fundamentals

Published 9:35 pm Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Michael Britt of Suffolk talks to participants of the skills and drills basketball clinic that he ran last week, with help from Joel Copeland, Diego McCoy and Teko Wynder among others.

Michael Britt of Suffolk talks to participants of the skills and drills basketball clinic that he ran last week, with help from Joel Copeland, Diego McCoy and Teko Wynder among others.

Michael “P-Bird” Britt’s vision for his youth basketball skills and drills clinic came to life this past week at the Salvation Army Robert W. Harrell Jr. Physical Health and Education Center.

Twenty-five to 35 young people ranging in age from 7 to 18 attended the clinic from Thursday through Saturday and worked hard as they learned about basketball and life.

“It was outstanding,” said Suffolk’s Britt, who is a former NBA player and college basketball star.

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He was aided in running the clinic by a variety of ex-professional and ex-college players. Among them was Diego McCoy, who had success at West Virginia University and played abroad professionally for seven years.

“I think it went very well,” he said of the clinic. “The kids were very responsive.”

McCoy was in his element, as he is an area director for One On One Basketball Training, an organization out of Washington D.C. that teaches fundamentals to players, while instilling a strong work ethic.

Clinic participants received instruction on shooting, and McCoy noted they also went through a rebound drill and were taught about outlet passing, speed dribbling and defensive positioning. Additionally, they were taught the importance of good communication on the basketball court.

There were also competitions involving jumpers, layups and free throws.

Awards were handed out to some of the most outstanding participants in the clinic.

Among the honorees was Anthony Smith, who was the best free throw shooter, while Ervin White, Dashawn Gibson and Jimmy Eley were recognized with the coach’s award, which was given to participants who showed leadership during the clinic.

Aaron Riddick, a sophomore at Lakeland High School, won the coach’s award, and he also won the hot shot competition, hitting the most jumpers in the contest.

Nyas’ah Allen was the only girl who came out and participated, but she competed in every drill, representing herself well.

Pointing to the positive of how hard the clinic participants worked, McCoy said, “A lot of parents were saying the kids went home tired.”

Britt said, “What excited me the most was the kids got something out of it.”

Riddick, a sophomore at Lakeland High School, said the clinic made him a better player.

“It made me push myself harder,” he said.

He started on the Cavaliers junior varsity team last year and is looking to play small forward on the varsity team in the future.

Following the conclusion of the clinic, King’s Fork Middle School eighth-grader Devonte Saunders said, “I learned how to dribble a little better, and I learned how to shoot a better shot.”

Windsor High School sophomore Markyal Riddick and Lakeland freshman Rontavious Sallywhite highlighted the work they put in as defenders, and Sallywhite said he learned to “get your (basketball) I.Q. better, basically.”

Omari Ward, an eighth-grader at King’s Fork Middle, said the clinic “helped me with my long-distance shooting and definitely my defense.”

Lakeland freshman Mekel Powell said he worked on his dribbling, specifically with his left hand, so he can advance well with either hand, and Lakeland sophomore Rodney Johnson said the instructors on hand helped him attack the rim and helped him work on his free throws.

Aaron Riddick’s older brother, John Riddick, noted the clinic also taught young people about preparing for life off the court. He said the clinic and its leaders made participants consider, “What will you do after this?” And they emphasized the importance of education.