Theo Ratliff Basketball Camp June 9, 10

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 30, 2005

Some kids go to bed at night dreaming of NBA stardom. Some just want to beat the kid next door at one-one-one. Either way, children in Demopolis looking to get a leg up on their basketball skills should mark June 9 and 10 on their calendar.

Those are the dates for this year’s annual Theo Ratliff Basketball Camp, open to anyone between the ages of 8 and 18 who’s looking to improve their hoops game. The Camp is sponsored by the Demopolis City School system and will be held at the Demopolis High gym beginning at 8 a.m. The Camp’s schedule of activities is being put together by DHS head basketball coach Jesse Bell.

“We’re going to do a variety of things,” Bell says. “We’ll put them through a lot of fundamental drills, have a 3-point shooting contest, a free-throw shooting contest, and we’re going to let ’em scrimmage a little bit so they can work on their team game.”

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In addition to Bell, coaches from area schools like John Essex and A.L. Johnson and Demopolis J.V. coach Todd Cassity will be on hand to give attendees personal instruction. Bell says that the Camp should result in a marked improvement in the skills of the kids in attendance, especially when it comes to the crucial basics that many kids might otherwise overlook.

“We’ll have the kids work on their passing techniques, their shooting techniques,” he says. “They watch a lot of TV and see these ‘And-1’ videos [in which players do tricks with the ball]…that’s not really basketball. That’s why you see so many overseas players drafted by the NBA nowadays. They take them at 8 or 9 and teach them their fundamentals. That’s why we place an emphasis on them at the Camp.”

But between the contests and scrimmages, it won’t be all drills, though, and Bell is quick to point out the Camp is looking to make a difference in the young players lives off-the-court as well.

“We’re also having an educational speaker, the author of the book ‘The Real Slam Dunk,’ who’ll be speaking with the kids about their academics,” Bell says.

“The Real Slam Dunk” is a children’s book about life outside of basketball and its author, Charisse K. Richardson, has received national recognition. Richardson will be attending after traveling from South Carolina, Bell says.

With all the different activities offered by the Camp, Bell is optimistic about the number of kids in attendance.

“We should have a pretty good turnout,” he says.

Registration forms can be picked up at Demopolis city schools, Omni Sports, or the Athlete’s Foot. Registration is free to area children, and participants will be provided with both a free t-shirt and lunch both days. Although participants may bring their completed registration form (which must be signed by a parent) to the gym the day of camp, Bell said the organizers would greatly appreciate it if the forms were turned in a day early.

“They should really register on June 8,” he said, “so we can have some idea of how many kids we’ll be working with.”