Sporting reversible red and white jerseys, young Atlanta Hawks fans spread their wings on the court at Fowler Park this week.
About 30 boys and girls ages 7-16 showed up at the park recreation center each day, where the Atlanta Hawks Summer Basketball Camp was making its first appearance. Hawks trainers taught campers about making proper screens, post moves, shooting techniques and effective ball-handling.
"This is so awesome," 8-year-old Sebastian Elisan said with a cheek-to-cheek grin. "Basketball is my favorite [sport]. It’s really cool."
Perryn Oglesby, director of Atlanta Hawks basketball camps, said that coming to different communities to do a week-long camp provides more learning than a one-day camp in Atlanta. Fowler Park is just one of 12 camps the Hawks will put on throughout Georgia.
Oglesby expects attendance at the events to total 2,000 kids.
"Going to different places for a week is much better for the kids," Oglesby said.
"They get more one-on-one instruction instead of being one person in a big group. You can tell that they all want to learn how to be better basketball players.
"Camaraderie and friendship is shown throughout the camp. You can tell that some of these friendships will extend past this week."
Even though it’s a summer basketball camp, Oglesby gave homework. But his assignments outside the camp didn’t involve traditional studying, much to the delight of the campers, it was to watch the NBA conference finals.
Oglesby instructed each camper to take notes on how NBA players executed fundamentals, especially how they followed through their shot after the ball had already left their hand.
"It’s important for them to see fundamentals in action," Oglesby said. "It’s one thing to teach it, and another for them to see NBA players do it. Then they know they have to master the fundamentals of the game."
Edmond Graham, 13, said his mother signed him up for the camp without telling him. Graham said he’s glad he was signed up because he plans to try out for the Glenn Jones Middle School basketball team in the fall.
"I guess she was trying to get me out of the house," Graham joked. "But I’m glad she did it; I love what we’re doing. My favorite part is scrimmaging."
The camp showcased Hawks center Zaza Pachulia on Tuesday. Pachulia spent much of his time teaching campers how to execute a screen to get another player open. After he did a few one-on-one drills, Pachulia signed autographs for the campers.
"He’s so freaking big," Graham said. "It’s crazy how big he is.
"He knows what he’s talking about. I feel like I learned a lot from him, so hopefully that will help me out when I try out for the team."