Kenny Almond pointed to a slogan on the back of his T-shirt that read “Old School is Cool.”
For Almond — a Hall of Famer and 40-year high school basketball coach who will begin his second year at the helm of Zachary’s Broncos in the fall — his approach to teaching the sport is definitely old school.
“Fundamentals are the same no matter what level they (players) are,” said Almond, who won three state titles as Woodlawn’s coach and ranks seventh nationally in all-time wins. The fundamentals have never changed since Dr. James Naismith first invented the game: ball handling, passing, defense and shooting.
Almond had 42 kids at his camp June 8-12, including one girl. The campers worked on fundamentals like layup drills, shuttle dribble drills or free-throw shooting early in the day, followed by contests to reinforce what they learned.
Because he enjoys teaching basketball, camps have been a part of most of Almond’s summers. He’s been involved with high-profile camps like Joe Dean’s and Dale Brown’s and has traveled around the Southeast teaching basketball in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.
“I’ve worked camps all over, and you get an idea of how you want to work the camps,” Almond said. “You figure how you want to do it with younger kids, then older kids, so I’ve tried to incorporate it where they have fun but then learn something about the game.”
ZHS junior varsity coach Jonathan McClinton and freshmen coach Jamar McKnight assisted in the camp as well as some of the varsity players who helped oversee the action and referee scrimmages.
Camps are good in one respect because they allow Almond and his staff to identify some of the better players at an early age and perhaps get them involved earlier in middle school and high school programs.
“These are all Zachary kids,” Almond said. “We identify kids and speak to them and say, ‘Keep up the good work.’ ”
Almond said he and his staff focused on all of the campers, not just the more skilled players, so everyone got something out of it.
“We want them all to learn about the game no matter their level,” he said.
The youngest campers get to play on 8-foot goals, but everyone else plays on regulation-size 10-foot baskets.
With LSU having such a great basketball program and the popularity of the NBA, Almond said local interest is at a high level. Everyone wants to be the next LeBron James.
“The kids need an activity, and what better thing could you be doing than playing basketball?” Almond asked. “I can think of a lot of things you can be doing that are worse. At Zachary High there’s a place for basketball, and we have to make sure we develop it. This is a way to do that.”
Barnes’ camp attracts 45
Zachary High girls basketball coach April Barnes held her summer camp June 1-5 at the high school.
She has been at ZHS for 15 years, and this was the eighth year sponsoring a summer camp.
About 45 youth — boys and girls ages 6 to 14 from around the Baton Rouge and Zachary areas — participated in the camp.
Current and former Lady Bronco players volunteered as camp instructors along with Lady Bronco assistant coaches.
Barnes said each day, the campers participated in various drills and competitions in shooting, ball-handling, defense, passing and free throws with records kept of the top performers in each category.
On the final day, the youth competed in individual contests as well as 3-on-3 and 5-on-5 games.
Campers were given T-shirts and participation certificates, and medals and trophies were awarded on the final day.
“This is a great way to get involved with youth in the community. I love having these kids here,” Barnes said. “It’s exciting because they’re excited about it.”
For many of the youth, it was their first time attending Barnes’ camp, while for others, it was the third or fourth time.
Send sports news, photos and stats to Howard Arceneaux at firstname.lastname@example.org.