Nearly 60 kids have participated in the NCCC Basketball Camp this summer. Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes.
Niagara County Community College continued its slew of summer camps this week with its boys basketball camp.
This is the fourth summer that NCCC is holding a summer basketball camp, with this summer being the largest turnout ever with close to 60 kids.
Not only are the instructors attempting to increase each player’s basketball acumen, but they are also aiming to improve their self-confidence both on and off of the court.
Camp NCCC Basketball director Bill Beilein, who is also the Thunderwolves’ men’s basketball coach, is also taking a different approach in some of the skills that he and his staff are teaching the kids over the course of the week.
“We are really trying to get into some defensive fundamentals for the kids,” Beilein said of the camp. “Some things that is really easy to teach kids. I think we have taught complex offensive things before and I think with the defensive stuff, kids can be rewarded at a very young age if they use the proper technique.”
The camp was open to boys aged seven to 14, with an entry fee of $130 and each player was issued a reversible Camp NCCC practice jersey.
With that target age group, Beilein hopes to build a camp from the ground and work their way up into older kids once the foundation is laid.
“We want to build it slow and then hopefully get up to the 15, 16, 17 age group eventually,” Beilein said of the age requirements. “We want to approach a younger group so that we can build it all the way through.”
Beilein has become acclimated with teaching college-aged players, so a camp full kids and pre-teens are a change of pace that he often welcomes.
“I enjoy it,” Beilein said of coaching young kids. “I wish I was still a camper and had a week of camp to go to. I went through camps; I’ve been to many camps, so for me as a coach going down from JUCO to the younger camps isn’t much of a change. I like to bring the same passion and energy for the young guys as I do for the older guys.”
Some of the other things that the camps are enjoyed throughout the week were a lesson in film study as well as time in the NCCC swimming pool.
Beilein has also put together a strong coaching staff for the camp, which includes Thunderwolves’ former players and assistants as well as future players, and former collegiate basketball players in the area.
“Having guys that we have worked out before, having guys that are on our coaching staff and having guys that have played for us allow us to do the proper programming for the camp,” Beilein said of his staff. “Those guys understand what we are working on. So, having alumni and other college kids here that have that experience makes it a lot easier to do the teaching lessons we need to do.”
One of those instructors with not only collegiate, but professional basketball experience is Amir Billups, a 2008 graduate of Starpoint High School, where he scored 855 points in his career.
Billups is an alumnus of Fredonia State College, where he scored 503 points in two seasons, and is currently playing for the Buffalo 716ers semipro team. He has also had stints with pro teams in Italy and Mexico, as well as tryouts in the NBA D-League.
“I just like helping teach kids basketball,” Billups said of coaching in the camp. “It’s what I love to do. I like helping them learn, helping them get better, it’s just good always see kids develop and get better.”
The camp ran from Monday through Friday at the Niagara County Community College gymnasium.