LOCUST GROVE, Ga. - Before they hit the books, dozens of student athletes chose to hit the gym Saturday for the National High School Basketball Association’s free basketball camp in Locust Grove. Student ages 13 to 18 got a chance to work on their game at no cost before they had back to school.
"So what we want to do is bring the community out and let them know that basketball is important and more so the kids are important," Coach Lorenzo Bailey said.
Bailey told FOX 5 one of the goals of the camp was to give players who don’t get as much time on the court a competitive edge going into the new school year and season.
"You got kids that’s on the team that need playing time that need the skill work, so what we provide today is the opportunity for these guys to get better before the season kick off," Bailey explained.
Drills and offensive skills exercises were part of the day’s activities.
"The more work we get, the better chance of winning we got, we’re trying to do big things this year so yeah," student athlete Emery Delbridge said.
NHSBA Executive Director Deunta Copeland said the organization, founded in 2006, also aims to help student athletes academically and to develop important life skills.
"I think when they come in, they don’t see the bigger picture, but my goal is to help them see the bigger picture," Copeland told Fox 5.
For many, the hope is to get to the next level of playing the sport they love.
"I’m trying to go to college…I’m pretty sure everybody is in here. We’re working hard, we putting in work every day to get to the next level…as far as the season we’re trying to go far," student athlete Cameron Wright said.
But even if they don’t, Bailey said camps like this one are critical—especially for kids who don’t have a lot of mentors.
"Whenever I’m dealing with problems, things I’m faced with…this was my safety…so we want to create that same environment for other kids," Bailey said.
The free camp also featured a number of special guest speakers, and it came with a free meal. Students also had the chance to compete for prizes.