By Mark Clark
Players from the sixth grade to those about to enter their senior years in high school spent last week learning to become better basketball players – and students – at the annual Bobby Wright Fundamentals Camp at Central High’s Freshmen Academy. There were about 75 youngsters who participated in the week-long event.
The camp is mainly for the top basketball players who will be in the Phenix City school district’s basketball program this fall and winter. The camp gives coaches an opportunity to jumpstart their summer workout programs at each age-level.
“Basically, we have about the Top 20 kids in each age group here to get a start on summer workouts. We have kids who will play in our middle school, junior high, junior varsity and varsity programs here to teach them the fundamentals and just how to play good basketball. We also talk to them about the importance of making good grades so that they will be eligible to play. Some of the kids are going to be in summer school and we want them to know they have to make the grades so they can play in our programs next fall,” Central coach Bobby Wright said.
The youngsters spent the first hours on Friday going through fundamentals in stretching, dribbling, defensive coverage and shooting. After that, the players were divided into teams for some friendly competition.
“It is important for the kids to learn the fundamentals to become good basketball players, but in a camp like this, it also has to be fun. We try to give them a good mix of everything without overwhelming them,” Wright said.
Once the camp ended, the players were given their summer workout assignments and schedules for competitive play. Teams are allowed to compete together for three weeks in June of each summer. Wright said his squads would be playing in leagues in Columbus, Ga., and at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. He feels like his squads will get in 20 to 25 games during the three-week period.
“We are able to identify the kids we think will play for us next season and work with them as a team. A lot of our kids play football in the fall, so this is the time of year we have to teach them the fundamentals. Last season, we did not get to play a game until December because of the success of our football program. The football kids came in and we just had to start playing without being able to work with them like we can during the summer to get them ready. I am not complaining about the guys playing football when basketball season came around. I am proud of the successes of all of our sports teams at Central High. It’s just that some sports overlap and that makes it tougher on the players and coaches to get ready to play the next sport,” Wright said.
Even though the Central basketball team got a late start last season, the Red Devils did make it to the Class 7A Final 4 Tournament in Birmingham. Central lost to the eventual champions the Mountain Brook High Spartans in the first round of the tournament. Central was the smallest 7A school to reach the Final 4. The other schools were McGill-Toolen Catholic, Sparkman and Mountain Brook.