By Art Redd
SJSports Staff Writer
The sound of a ball being bounced on a hardwood floor can be heard in gymnasiums throughout our region as the sport of basketball begins another season. With the start of the NBA already in its seventh week and the NCAA starting up their quest for the final four, it's now the high schools turn to prepare for the spotlight. That preparation really began for most some time ago with basketball athletes taking part of several camps throughout the area. Others enjoy their time off but anxiously wait another season of basketball.
"Preseason high school basketball is a wonderful thing. We get the chance to enlighten athletes as to the proper way to prepare. We get kids who tell us they've been working on their fitness levels, but when it's time to show us they come up a little short", mentioned Graig White president of Team Conditioning Systems. "I had some opportunities to go around and participate in some camps recently and one camp that sticks out in my mind is the DeMaya Walker Camp. It was a chance to interact with athletes that wanted to better their abilities and DeMaya and her people seemed to have a good handle on how to get it done."
South Jersey resident and WNBA star DeMaya Walker came back to her home town telling those in attendance what it takes to not only make the team, but also get your chance at the pros. "This is where it all began for me, and to bring this camp back to were my career developed is special", said DeMaya. The Portland Fire WNBA's most improved player last year averaged 10.9 points, collected 5 rebounds and just over 1 blocked shot per game. She also holds the Virginia record for blocked shots in a season with 95 and 247 for her career.
The two-day camp held at Rancocas Valley High School involved in depth drills that targeted shooting, passing, offense and defense. The more serious aspects of respect, dedication and teamwork was also discussed during the camp. "I came back here to create a cycle. So when returning players get older, they are thinking about coming back to the community and you create that cycle. Where kids always have the kids that came before them to look up to", said DeMaya at the end of the first session of the camp. When asked about her most memorable moment playing for the Lady Red Devils, "My last game. My last game was so special for me...outside of the statistics. It was just a combination of everything that has been so positive for me. I have been so blessed to have such a wonderful high school." DeMaya was very appreciative for the coaching staff's open door policy were she could talk to them anytime, even today.
With the start of the high school basketball season, Graig White has also been influencing basketball players in the area for some time now. "One thing I've noticed is that when it comes to doing the little things that make great ball players, there is little difference between boys and girls. By that I mean that in the beginning when we walk into a place, all the athletes are a little slow to coming around to our way of thinking. Coaches some time use conditioning aspects as punishment and the athlete has equated doing the things we do as punishment. Once we get them to understand that we aren't looking to punish them, but help them punish their opponents life does get easier."
This year most of White's time has been spent with Pennsauken High School boy's basketball. "These guys were great, we got along from the start and to be honest I had a great time. Coach Tim Dunn make his guys know just how serious he was about making sure his guys were prepared and his team bought in to our concepts. I am excited about this season, and I want to thank the boys for their effort and for trusting us to help them with the success we know that they will be enjoying this season." White's objective is to assist the coach and players to have as much fun as possible while creating an environment that will allow everyone to express themselves in positive ways.