A Player to Look Up To

This week 8 year old Lucas Snyder is participating in his first Bill Self Basketball Camp. The youngster may be star struck in seeing many of his Jayhawk idols up close, but it will be difficult to top the experience Lucas enjoyed last week.

Lucas was merely spectator for the Alumni-Player game last Wednesday, sitting in the stands decked out in a Danny Manning basketball camp shorts and a Cleveland Cavaliers jersey. Alongside the parents and assorted fans, he watched Scot Pollard, Billy Thomas and others take on seniors Wayne Simien and Aaron Miles along with newcomers like Alexander Kaun and CJ Giles.

Following the scrimmage Lucas stood in the hall of Horjesi Center, gazing up at all 7'2 of former player Greg Ostertag. As Ostertag removed his shoes to apply some ice to an ankle, Lucas gawked.

"What size are those," he asked in wonder.

"Size 18," Ostertag replied. "You want them? Here – I am through with them."

With that, Ostertag scribbled his name across one unmarred white upper and handed the shoes to the awestruck boy. A slightly older boy stood nearby, looking equally impressed and wistful. A quick trade was negotiated between the kids that resulted in one more signature from Ostertag and a shoe for each fan. Fortunately, the hallways were clearing so the former player managed to escape with the rest of his clothing intact.

"Look, look," Lucas exclaimed. "Greg Ostertag gave me his shoes." Ten minutes later he was still announcing the news to anyone within in his vicinity, and demonstrating how he could fit his entire forearm inside one of the massive sneakers.

There is no doubt Ostertag immediately cemented hero status in Lucas' eyes – someone to look up to both literally and figuratively. After four years as a Jayhawk and nine years with the Utah Jazz, Ostertag has played role model to kids of all ages. But no role is as important as that of father to his own three children.

Ostertag's oldest son Cody was among the campers in the first session. It was his second camp under Bill Self and the younger Ostertag had also attended Roy Williams' camp in the past. But don't start sending out those recruiting letters just yet.

"Will he play in college? Who knows – he is only ten years old," said Ostertag incredulously. "He plays a lot of sports. He's not sure what he wants to do. Seriously, he is a ten year old kid." Ostertag said.

A kid, like so many others that who converged on Lawrence these past two weeks. Just kids, hoping to have some fun, develop their skills, and maybe glimpse a few champions in the process.


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