He won over Cardinal hearts, near and far, when he first committed to Stanford over Kansas, Arizona and UCLA. His legend grew with each dunk, drive, rebound and jumper, culminating in a sensational junior year where he led the Cardinal in scoring and rebounding in a fabled season that saw Stanford win their first 26 games. He was a First-Team AP and consensus All-American, the school's first Pac-10 Player of the Year, and then that June became the highest ever NBA Draft selection going #6 to the Atlanta Hawks.
Josh Childress was all of that, but he was and still remains a Stanford fan favorite because of his engaging personality, infectious smile, and easy-going demeanor that belies his superstar basketball abilities. Perhaps, then, we should not be so surprised that the NBA swing man has chosen the Bay Area to be the home of his namesake youth basketball camp. Rather than mining the more obvious metropolis markets of his new home (Atlanta) or his childhood home (Los Angeles), the Cardinal Basketball great has stuck his stake in the ground with a premier camp on the Peninsula. From July 24-27, the Josh Childress Basketball Camp 2006 will be held just a few miles north of The Farm in San Carlos (Calif.).
"The biggest reason for me is that this is where I went to school," Childress explains of his camp location choice. "Everybody has a camp in L.A. There's five million camps there. But there has never been a great camp presence in the Stanford area. Even while I went to school, I couldn't believe the lack of camps. NBA players have never come back and run their camp in this area."
"All of our fans while I was in college were true Stanford fans and followed the game. My experiences were very positive. I had a great time," he continues. "I grew up an L.A. kid but developed a respect for the Bay Area. It's fun to be in the area. I want to be established here and develop a tradition."
The tradition started last summer, when Childress put together his first camp in Los Altos. It had little publicity or exposure, and there were first-time lessons to be learned in running his own camp. But it was a tremendous success for the kids who attended. The uniqueness of the camp experience could have been alone defined by Childress' name and the high level of basketball knowledge and ability he brings to the table as a college All-American and rising NBA star. Instead, it was a personal touch and attention that left so many kids smiling and screaming for more.
"I've seen a lot of camps and been a part of a lot of camps through the years," Childress offers. "A lot of guys are there for a day or two out of the four or five days, and they make a speech. Then they leave the coaching process up to the guys they've hired. But the kids and their parents pay money because this is the Josh Childress Camp - not for the guys I've hired."
At least year's inaugural camp, Childress attended every day and was in the thick of the instruction and events for four out of the six hours each day. But that wasn't the best part. A handful of kids each day would have to wait until their parents picked them up. Childress and his brother would play basketball with the kids sometimes for up to an hour.
"Not every kid last year got to do it," Childress says. "It wasn't anything fancy - me with my brother just playing with the kids. We would give them some nice passes and give them confidence. I would flash a little play here and there, too. I would dunk on a kid, and then all the other kids were saying, 'Dunk on me. Dunk on me!'"
"They really enjoyed that," he adds. "And I did, too. That was pretty much the best part of the camp."
"What I learned last year, when it's all said and done, is that kids want to see me and be with me," Childress states. "So that's what I am to do - be with the kids as much as I can."
Drawing on those lessons, there will be a new element to the Josh Childress Basketball Camp. Camp participants play in scrimmages throughout the camp on teams. The 6'8" namesake host will play in a game with every kid in the camp. That game will be filmed, and subsequently reviewed personally by the Atlanta Hawks star.
"We're not pulling out old Jordan highlight tapes," Childress says. "I'm going to sit down with the kids and talk about what they should do in situations we see on their film. We watch a ton of film in the NBA and college - this gives them a glimpse of what to look for."
"I'll tailor the message for different levels," he continues. "For the younger kids, it will be a little bit more fundamentals-based. For older kids, we might talk about coming off down screens, and planting with your left food instead of your right."
With this plan, philosophy and personal touches, the Josh Childress Camp is a sure bet as a summer staple on the Peninsula for years to come. If you want to learn more about this one-of-a-kind camp for your kid, go to http://www.joshchildresscamp.com.
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