By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
A milestone 30th edition of the Jeff Rodgers Summer Basketball Camp concluded with its traditional “Fun Night” Saturday at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium.
During the event, campers had an opportunity to showcase their skills learnt from the camp, and the celebrity All-Star game featuring the camp instructors, against the visiting NBA stars, highlighted the evening.
Eric Gordon, of the Houston Rockets, and Shelvin Mack, of the Orlando Magic, led team Green against a team of local pros and camp instructors on team Blue which featured Zane Knowles and Quentin Demeritte.
Knowles scored four points in overtime to lead team Green to a 74-70 win. He finished with 27 points and became a fan favourite with his powerful highlight reel dunks.
The 6’10” center played his NCAA tenure at Texas A & M Corpus Christi and will spend this season with King Wilki Morskie Szczecin of the PLK, the top tier level in Poland.
Gordon, whose mother Denise is Bahamian, said it’s always a pleasure for him whenever he gets a chance to come back to The Bahamas.
The current NBA Sixth Man of the Year put on a shooting display and made eight threes in route to scoring 24 points to follow up his visit to the camp on Thursday.
“It’s always good to come back to the Jeff Rodgers Camp, he’s involved with a lot of kids, that’s what I like. I always have fun coming down here, this is like a second home to me so I always enjoy coming to The Bahamas and being able to help out with this event and participate.”
Mack also contributed 15 points.
“It feels good. It’s a blessing to have been invited down here and I’m always looking forward to doing whatever I can to help the camp. I played with Klay Thompson on the USA basketball U19 team and I’ve known Eric Gordon for a while, so when they asked me to come down, I couldn’t resist the opportunity. This is my fourth time here being apart of the camp and I always appreciate the opportunity to come down here,” he said.
Team Blue also featured former camper and current junior national team member Samuel Hunter, now with BC Christian in British Colombia, Canada.
Demeritte also scored 15 for team Green. This year, both sides allowed campers to be a part of the All-Star game which in the past has featured many NBA icons including Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues, Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving among many others.
Camp director Jeff Rodgers underscored the importance of the event.
“To us, this is the most important event in the camp because it gives the kids an opportunity to showcase all the skills they have learned over the past few weeks for their parents, friends and other interested basketball enthusiasts,” Rodgers said. “But again, more than anything else, we want to ensure that the campers understand the importance of developing healthy bodies with a positive outlook on life.”
Each of the visiting NBA icons conducted sessions with the campers aimed at instilling the values and ideals necessary for success on and off the court.
“We are so thankful to be able to reach this far and to still have the impact we have at 30 years. I really appreciate the time these guys take out to talk to the different groups, talk about their life experiences and the messages they deliver - staying in school, staying out of trouble, staying off drugs. Some of the same things I have been telling the past four weeks and 30 years,” Rodgers said. “This year has probably been our greatest challenge by far kids were so excited and it is always a great experience for them to have the guys.”
In addition to the impact of the visiting NBA personalities, Rodgers said it is always important for the campers to be tutored by local players that have excelled in the game.
“Every morning, we had the instructors and the guys from the national team interact with the kids so they see it’s not just the NBA stars, they get it from our very own talent just to show that there’s one message - there are rules on the court and there are rules in life,” Rodgers said.
“We put a lot of focus in talking and teaching them as much as possible about life off the basketball court. One of the most important things for them to understand, and to teach them about Bahamian society and the challenges they will face off the basketball court with a focus on integrity and character building,” he said.