Fantasy Camp Delivers On Multiple Levels

For the campers attending the Bob Huggins Fantasy Camp this weekend in Morgantown, W. Va., it's an experience that will give them the chance to learn about basketball from Huggins, the West Virginia coaching staff and current and former Mountaineers.

But that's not the reason Huggins decided to start the camp five years ago.

It's a chance to get alumni from different eras of WVU basketball together and have a reunion of sorts.

"I've always thought that playing here was a tremendous opportunity because you got to know guys that could continue to help you," Huggins said. "That's what (playing at West Virginia) ought to be, it ought to be – for the lack of a better word – a fraternity where we try the best we can to take care of each other."

This weekend, a handful of players dating back from the 1970s to players who recently graduated and played under Huggins made their return trip to Morgantown – some for the first time in quite some time – to get the opportunity to give a little back while also getting the chance to renew a few friendships from their playing days and make a few more along the way.

Cam Thoroughman said he didn't hesitate at all when he was approached to attend the event. The Portsmouth, Ohio, native who played under Huggins from 2007-11 and is now working for Marathon Petroleum Company in Robinson, Ill., said that even though he tries to stay in touch with some of his teammates, it's gotten more difficult now that they aren't in Morgantown.

"That's why I wanted to come back," he said. "It's the biggest reason because I never get to see these guys, and now we're all here. It's good to just get to see everybody.

"I'll get to know some of these other guys who played here several years ago, so that will be good to get to know those guys and try to remember the good days that we had here."

One of the players from another era of Mountaineer basketball who is serving as a coach at the fantasy camp is Phil Collins, who was a center from 1979-82.

He said that the opportunity to have so many former players come in and interact with each other, and current players, is a great way to help show the tradition that Mountaineer basketball has to offer.

"It's always been there because some players always stay in contact – but we only tend to speak to the ones in our era that we got to play with," Collins said. "This is that chance for us to get to meet all of these people who played at different times and we all hit it off because we've had some of the same experiences and we've been through a lot of similar things.

"And we all have one goal: We want to see West Virginia basketball remain a strong program for a long time."

Huggins has seen the success of the camp rise greatly since he started it. It was an idea that came about after years of attending Michael Jordan's fantasy camps in the past and thinking it was something that would be able to work at WVU.

With players dating back to the late 1950s returning to help at the camp since it began, the veteran head coach has been able to accomplish quite a bit in bridging that gap between the players who played for the likes of Fred Schaus and Sonny Moran like Jerry West and Wil Robinson with players from the more recent eras like Thoroughman and Mike Gansey.

"The more we can get them back, the more they want to come back," Huggins said. "This is a special place, and once we get them to come back here, they kind of fall in love with it."

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