By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
THE 31st edition of the Jeff Rodgers Summer Basketball Camp will be headlined by one of the island nation's biggest names in basketball who got his start at the event years ago.
According to camp director Jeff Rodgers, projected lottery pick DeAndre Ayton will make an appearance at this year's event, to be hosted June 25 to July 20 at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium.
Ayton was most recently named the "Karl Malone Power Forward" of the year ahead of Duke freshman Marvin Bagley III and three other finalists for the award. Ayton was also voted an Associated Press First Team All-American.
He was also the First Team All-American from the NABC, USBWA and Sporting News. Ayton averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game while shooting 61.6 per cent from the field.
He was the first player in the history of the Pac-12 Conference to earn Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Most Outstanding Player of the conference tournament in the same season. The two-time Pac-12 Player of the Week rewrote numerous pages in the Arizona Basketball record book.
Ayton is already projected to be one of the top three picks in the NBA Draft. If he goes with the first pick, he will become just the second Bahamian to be selected No.1 behind Mychal 'Sweet Bells' Thompson, the first foreign-born player taken in the 1978 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers.
Since 1987 Rodgers has staged the camp which provides an opportunity for the young children to engage in some wholesome sporting activities during the summer months. At the same time, they get to develop their skills.
A number of the instructors got their start in the camp as participants. But Rodgers said they went on to develop their skills and they have returned to lend their expertise to the younger players who are following in their footsteps
"The camp is really about teaching and confirming in our campers "life skills" such as discipline, respect, concern for one another and the environment, through the medium of basketball. We want our campers to learn how to manage and navigate life apart from basketball," he said.
"We have been privileged to see over 10,000 boys and girls pass through our camp over these 31 years, this year we anticipate having 350 young people with us who will be supported by outstanding Bahamian coaches."
As per its tradition, the camp will also feature appearances from NBA players and personnel.
This year's expected attendees include Eric Gordon of the Houston Rockets, Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors, Shelvin Mack of the Orlando Magic and NBA icons Mychal "Sweetbells" Thompson, Byron Scott, Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues and others.
The camp's traditional "Fun Night" will again be another main feature to encourage parental involvement.
"Some of the exciting things about our camp is our Annual Fun Night. This is always a very exciting event and time where our parents and guardians, sponsors will have an opportunity to see our campers display the skills they learnt during the camp," Rodgers said, "Afterwards, our instructors and guest NBA players and coaches will play a game that is always exciting and a must see event. "
Registration forms are now available online at www.jeffrodgersbasketballcamp.com and at the Seventh Day Adventist Conference on the Tonique Williams Darling Highway during working days from 9am-5pm.