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Monday April 12th

At Antawn Jamison's basketball camp, kids learn more than just the game

<p>Campers at Antawn Jamison playing in a scrimmage in the Dean Smith Center.&nbsp;</p>
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Campers at Antawn Jamison playing in a scrimmage in the Dean Smith Center. 

Jordan Dominie was in the middle of explaining how the basketball camp he was attending was teaching him more than just how to play the game, when he was grabbed and put into a scrimmage. 

“I’ll be back in a minute,” he shouted over his shoulder as his teammates hustled him into position. 

It’s Dominie’s third year in a row attending Antawn Jamison’s All-Star Camp in Chapel Hill. For him and about 125 other campers like him, the camp teaches skills beyond what is needed to play on the court. 

Jamison has made it a point not just to run layup lines and show 10-year-olds how to execute a split cut after a pass. For his camp, he’s brought in lessons about nutrition and yoga in an effort to improve his campers’ overall health and wellness. 

“The days and ages have changed,” Jamison said. “When I came up, I’d eat Krispy Kreme donuts, pizza and all this other stuff and go about your merry way.” 

Before, nutrition wasn’t something amateur players even considered. Now, it’s being taught to children as young as six, giving them the same tips and tricks the former Tar Heel used throughout his NBA career – like practicing yoga. 

Jamison said he started incorporating yoga about eight years into his career, and he credits it for extending his playing time “another eight years.” The Charlotte native was a two-time All-Star during his 16 years in the NBA, a career that included over 20,000 total points and a Sixth Man of the Year award in 2004. 

“I just want them to know the importance of what this stuff means,” Jamison said. “Even though you’re young, you’re at a young age, you can start now. You can start having that vision of, ‘These are the things I have to do in order to be successful, (to) be able to get ahead of the game and take advantage of it.’ We’ve always incorporated things like that.” 

In addition to helping the kids work on their personal fitness, Jamison has brought in outside speakers in the past. Last year, a police officer came to speak to the campers in an attempt to build a better relationship with kids, given the heightened atmosphere involving policing in America. 

The camp is in its 14th year of operation, and its sixth in Chapel Hill. When the opportunity for Jamison to move his camp to the same court he played on in college, he jumped at it. 

Now, campers not only get to play beneath North Carolina’s six NCAA championship banners, but they also get to interact with UNC players who volunteer at the camp. 

“It’s kind of fun that they know your name and know who you are,” senior guard Brandon Robinson said. “They just love to joke around. It kinda just brings me back to my childhood when I was in their shoes, when I was going to camp and growing up. It’s good to see a smile on their face.” 

It’s Robinson’s third year in a row working at the camp. When he was growing up, his father worked at Georgia Tech, and he regularly attended their summer basketball camp. Now, he says he feels wants to give these kids the same feeling he had working with older players. 

Jamison is right there with him. Only, the former All-Star isn’t just giving back with his time. About 90 of the campers are attending free of charge on scholarships provided by different charities, including Camp Corral, a free summer camp for children of military service members.

“You can tell that these kids who might not normally get the opportunity, they really enjoy it; they go out there and compete and have a good time,” Jamison said. “They’re exposed to something they probably wouldn’t get exposed to, and I think they really get the most out of it.” 

The Tar Heel legend, one of just eight players to have his number retired at UNC, played in his backyard, and the local playgrounds in Charlotte. For Jamison, it’s an opportunity to give kids an experience he never had. 

“I think if I did have an opportunity to go to a former professional basketball player’s camp, if my mom and dad had an opportunity to pay for it or even get me there," Jamison said, "(it) would have made a world of difference."


@DTHSports |

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