By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
Little kids want to go to Disney World. Baseball fans want to go to Cooperstown.
For high school basketball players who one day hope to play at the college level, Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke University is the equivalent.
The Lemon Bay High School boys basketball team is currently in Durham, N.C., for a basketball camp hosted by Duke.
“This isn’t just a basketball camp,” Lemon Bay coach Sean Huber said. “This is the Disney World of basketball camps.”
No, there aren’t any cartoon mice teaching young centers how to properly box out for a rebound, or toy cowboys demonstrating proper pick-and-roll techniques. Duke is where coach Mike Krzyzewski has mentored 30 All-Americans, 52 NBA draft picks — 20 in the lottery — 13 ACC tournament titles, 12 Final Fours and five national championships.
Players have spent five days living the life of a Duke athlete.
Other than spending the day working on their skills, they also tour the campus, and stay in the dorms.
“The best part of the day was seeing everyone react to the campus and Cameron Indoor,” Cade Huber said. “It’s definitely different. Everything is so old, but the history of it makes it cool.”
This wasn’t the first time the Hubers had visited the campus. A recent vacation to North Carolina led them — as it would any basketball family — to Durham and Chapel Hill, the campus of the University of North Carolina.
The visit sparked an idea to bring the whole team.
“We saw how close we were and had to go,” Coach Huber said. “We (family) spent a couple of days here and fell in love with both schools.”
As for the camp, there are drill sessions with current players, and Coach K spends a few hours each day sharing the knowledge that has made him the winningest head coach in men’s NCAA Division I basketball history.
“I’ve never really seen the campus before,” Luke Morrill said. “It’s really old and nice. I watch Duke on TV, and I never thought I’d see all this in person.”
The players spent the first day doing evaluation games as well as combine-style tests. With high schools from all around the country signed up, Coach Huber purposely split up his players so they’d be forced to interact with others.
Sure, team chemistry is important, and they get enough of that on the trip itself, but they don’t need to be teammates at a camp for that. And for Huber, it’s not about how well they do at the camp.
The coach then recalled the words of an old colleague who said, “it’s about creating a moment.”
“I thought that was pretty straight to the point,” Huber said. “It’s about creating a moment for a bunch of kids, and basketball just happens to be the tool surrounding it. You come here and you understand how prestigious and incredibly beautiful the place is.”
The same way a little kid will remember the first time she sees the giant ball at Epcot, or a baseball fan sees the plaque of his favorite player at Cooperstown, the basketball players at Lemon Bay will never forget the first time they stepped on the court at Cameron Indoor.