AMHERST – Confidence breeds competence, and competence breeds good basketball players.
“What separates one kid from another are details,” said Will Njoku during his weeklong Will-2-Win basketball camp at Spring Street Academy. “Their determination to pay attention to the details and master the details.”
Njoku paced the kids through several drills yesterday, including keeping low and dribbling the ball between hands while touching the nearby wall between bounces of the ball.
“The most important thing I do is try to give each individual the right tools so they will be confident in competition, and once they’re confident in competition, then they will be competent in competition,” said Njoku.
One of the students at the camp is Rachel Chevarie.
“The camp’s been great,” said Chevarie. “We’re being taught a lot of dribbling and shooting techniques.”
The 14-year-old hopes to play for the 2012-2013 Amherst Regional High School Junior Varsity Vikettes.
“I’ll practice the skills he taught us over the summer.”
That’s what Njoku likes to hear.
“What I’ve been saying to them all week is that I want them to show up to practice in the fall doing things their coach has never seen them do before, and doing things their coach has seen them do before but doing them better,” said Njoku. “I want their coach and their teammates to benefit from their improvement, that’s what it’s all about.”
The 6’9” Njoku was a star player at Halifax West High School and played for Saint Mary’s University in 1993.
He now lives in Moncton, and says Nova Scotia basketball is played differently than basketball in New Brunswick.
“They (Nova Scotia players) play a faster pace and still have really good control,” he said.
The Indiana Pacers picked Njoku in the second round of the 1994 NBA draft.
There was an NBA players lockout in 1994 and, although he didn’t play in the NBA, he did play against many NBA players during training camp, including Reggie Miller, Shaquille O’Neill and Michael Jordan.
The Toronto Raptors are holding a training camp in Halifax from Oct. 1 to 6, at the Canada Games Centre, and Njoku hopes young players will go watch them practice.
“I wish that I could have seen them when I was as young as these kids,” he said. “Kids will be able to watch and see how these guys practice and realize they aren’t doing anything different than they’re doing, as far as skills, except they’re doing it better.
“They will be able to see what they need to do to get closer to perfection.”
Njoku said he was cheering for the Miami Heat during the 2012 NBA championships.
“LeBron James is one of my favourite players, Dwayne Wade is a player I respect and Chris Bosh is one of my favourite players,” said Njoku.
“LeBron James plays the kind of basketball that every kid in the world should aspire to play,” he added. “He’s fun to watch…you couldn’t ask for a better role model in the NBA, and I want to see him succeed.”