Tale of Two Camps: Lewis Leonard and Jameer Nelson

So the summer is winding down… With it, another fantastic year of summer hoops is behind us…

The older Boys have left home and begun their journey toward manhood… Izaiah “IZB” Brockington (below) is at St Bonaventure. Youngfella… It gets EXTRA cold in Olean youngin… That ain’t the place for fly, fresh super-clean Timbs! Boots are for protection up there… Not fashion! The temps are frigid and the snow is deep… Can’t wait to see you come back through City Ave and 20th and Olney.

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Collin Gillespie (below) is on the Mainline… Once again… People will underestimate his abilities… He’s too slow… He’s not explosive… He’s not ready for the Big East… That’s what they’re gonna say… Til’ Jay calls his name! Then they’re gonna say “Ooooooh… did you see that!” The boy can play basketball… He’s gonna contribute right away… Brunson is one of the very best point guards in the nation and every day Collin is gonna try to come at his neck… Nova’s backcourt is in good hands thanks to the keen evaluation skills of Coach Ash…

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Daron “Fatts” Russell (below) is in Kingston, R.I… He will bring a fierce competitiveness to the A10… Undersized and OVERLY athletic he’s gonna be a problem for that league. Watch yo head… Fatts is gonna try to bang it on you…

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Right now in Columbus, South Carolina Frank Martin is in Dave Beatty’s (below) ass… ALL DAY, EVERY DAY… Next time we see Dave, he’s gonna be on the court playing a brand of defense he could only imagine a few months ago… Gamecocks get after it… They get in your face for the whole game… Dave has the size, the lateral quickness, the strength and the toughness to be an elite defender right out of the box…

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In Happy Valley, Pat Chambers is smiling from ear to ear… We all know Penn State is a football school and Chambers may have the best football recruit on his roster… Big John Harrar is 6’9” and comes in at about 255 lbs. He loves to bang and never backs down from a challenge… He will provide a much needed hockey “tough guy” presence for Tony Carr, Shep Garner and Lamar Stevens. He’s more than ready help Mike Watkins give Penn State a true Big10 front line for the first time in recent memory.

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Cheesing, perhaps, more than any of the other coaches in the area is Doug Overton. He’s got Jordan Camper (below) strolling across the bucolic Chester County campus of America First Historically Black college, Lincoln University. At 6’7” Camper is an exceedingly quick and explosive leaper. He should immediately be among the rebounding and shot blocking leaders in the ultra-tough CIAA.

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Those guys are ALL High School graduates and NCAA Eligible!

They are gone from Philadelphia’s scholastic hoops scene… Their achievements recorded for the archives… But, as we all know, there are always new hitters on deck. Black Cager Sports Media spent time at two of the finest camps this week checking out some they guys that are next up. Fortunately, the talented was concentrated in two wonderfully different camp settings.

The AAU/grassroots season is done… WeRone Hoops, led by Coach James Johns, won the Under Armour National 17U Championship for the 3rd time in 4 years. Locally, Skip Robinson assumed the helm as WeRone took the hardware in the Chosen League and the King of Philly Tournament. They are loaded… Eric Dixon, Eric Ayala and Isaiah Wong are all consensus top 100 players in their respective classes.

From time to time, I hear the arguments that other area programs are better… None of these argument are persuasive…

Now, as the kids prepare to return to school, they are honing their skills in camps across the country. Two of the very best camps were held in Philadelphia this week. Jameer Nelson’s Lead Guard Camp was a small, intimate camp focused on identifying weakness and providing instruction in ways to address those weaknesses. Lewis Leonard’s Elite Camp is throwback old-school summer basketball camp experience where high level competition is the focus.

Both were excellent!

Nelson, a former National College Player of the Year at St. Joseph’s and 13 year NBA veteran identified 12 of the better guards and wings to participate in his camp. Every morning in the spacious gym on the beautiful Girard College campus, they began with boxing instruction. After that, they received lectures on topics such as NCAA eligibility and life after basketball. But, the central feature of this camp was intense small group instruction from the likes of Drew Hanlen, NBA Strategic Skills Coach, Monte Ross, NCAA D1 Head Coach and Nelson himself. The impressive participant list included AJ Hoggard (Archbishop Carroll/Team Final), Chris Ings (Neumann-Gorreti/NJ Playaz), Lynn Greer (Roman Catholic/Team Final), Jameer Nelson, Jr. (Haverford School/Jersey Shore), Mikeal Jones (Girard College/Team Final), Donta Scott (Imhotep/Philly Pride), Michael Smith (Chester/Philly Pride), Isaiah Wong (Bonner/WeRone Hoops), Rasheen Caulk, Jr. (Salesianum) and Jhamir Brickus (Coatesville/Rip City).

Lewis identified some of the very best players in the mid-Atlantic region and had them go at it in a small hot recreation center gym and outside on painted black top surface with the sun beaming down on their backs. Ohhhhh… Lewis had the dudes in attendance… Sam Sessoms (Shipley/Team Final), Eric Dixon (Abington/WeRone Hoops), Julius Phillips (Archbishop Wood/Team Final), Elijah Taylor (Imhotep/WeRone Hoops), Dahmir Bishop (Imhotep/K-Low Elite), Jon Bol Ajok (Church Farm/Team Final), Chereef Knox (Imhotep/WeRone Hoops) and Fatayn Wesley (Imhotep) were all in the building.

In Nelson’s camp, the player changed uniforms several times a day… They were each given new sneakers and the lunch was catered… At Leaonard’s camp it was “shirts and
skins,” play in the shoes you came with and the girl out front was selling snacks…

One guy is a multi-millionaire NBA veteran, the other is an overseas professional working hard for his next contract…

The common denominator? Both guys give 100% of themselves! Both guys LOVE the kids in their camps… Both guys LOVE the game of basketball…

Both guys have so much knowledge and expertise to share with the kids… One thing is certain, every kid in both of those camps got better… Every kid in both camps NOW know that the man sponsoring the respective camps truly LOVES them and wants to see them use basketball to improve themselves and access high education…

If you ever, feel the urge to be critical of either camp? Don’t…

If you find yourself pitting one camp against the other? Stop…

Lewis Leonard and Jameer Nelson are teammates, they share common goals and purposes…

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