Prep Basketball: Laettner Camp a success on many age levels
When Christian Laettner returns to Pillager in 2019, which is the proposed plan as of Wednesday, Reece Halverson will likely be in attendance. The 8-year-old son of Chris and Angie Halverson of Baxter said he had a lot of fun and learned passing,...
When Christian Laettner returns to Pillager in 2019, which is the proposed plan as of Wednesday, Reece Halverson will likely be in attendance.
The 8-year-old son of Chris and Angie Halverson of Baxter said he had a lot of fun and learned passing, dribbling and drills. He also learned who Christian Laettner was.
"No, I didn't know who he was," Halverson said. "My dad said he was a good passer."
The former Duke Blue Devil and 13-year NBA veteran stressed passing, ball handling and layups in his three-day Basketball Academy at Pillager High School. The learning experience concluded Wednesday with drill competitions and a five-on-five event. The former college basketball player of the year instructed 160 boys and girls. And also some coaches.
"You go down to the state coaching clinic, you go down to the state basketball tournament and you see a number of different things and you want to get three or four drills you want to implement," said former Pillager head boys basketball coach and current assistant coach Jim Bentson. "On Day One (of this camp) I got three or four. There were so many things that he does and he does it the right way. There was a lot of different terminology like a speed dribble. Yes, you might have done it, but things that you pick up from a guy who has played that many years in college and the NBA is neat. I've never been to the NBA. They have different terminology for stuff.
"Plus, he can do everything. To watch a guy, and as a coach you think you can do these drills, but then you see someone 6-foot-11 doing these drills, it's amazing. I consider myself a good ball handler. He's a great ball handler."
Pillager assistant girls basketball coach Matt Moen was the architect of bringing Laettner to Pillager. He said he would like to bring him back in 2019.
Crosby-Ironton senior Jack Silgen won't be eligible to come back in 2019, but he enjoyed the three-day experience.
"It was good," said the C-I Rangers point guard. "It was good for working on the fundamentals of the game."
Silgen said he's attended many camps, including a few already this summer. He said he liked the different perspective on the game.
"A lot of camps you go to you kind of do the same drills," Silgen said. "This one you get a new look on it. You get quite a bit of insight from him. He's a guy who has made it to the NBA. He definitely has a lot of experience with playing with and for some for the best players and coaches."
Both Moen and Bentson were surprised with Laettner's constant presence during the camp.
The No. 3 pick in the 1992 NBA draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves was a constant presence and voice in the Pillager gym. That's what Pillager senior point guard Ridge Hunstad liked.
"He's a very good basketball player and he's well known playing at Duke, but he's teaching us the small things," Hunstad said. "He's very good with each one of us. He's pushing us to our limits.
"He's really stressed to always play hard and push yourself to play even harder. At least that's what he's been yelling at me to always play harder than you think you can."
Hunstad liked the fact it was in his home gym and he was practicing against Silgen and other opponents. The two players will square off during the regular season and hopefully deep in the Section 7-2A playoffs next season.
The Laettner Basketball Academy at Pillager drew the second most basketball players in the foundation's history said Moen. Players from Fargo Shanley, Fosston, Aitkin, Crosby-Ironton, Wadena-Deer Creek and more attended the camp, which Laettner called very successful.
"It was an unbelievable turnout with 160 kids," Laettner said. "Matt Moen did an awesome job and the kids were great like they always are in northern Minnesota. That's why I continue to come up here. I had my three days in Walker last week and some of the kids from Walker, probably about five, came down to Pillager this week so it was really good to see them. It seems like everyone was enjoying it and appreciating it so it was a lot of fun."
Laettner said whatever Moen decides concerning the next camp he'll be open to it.
"The sponsor support was unbelievable and Kavanaugh's put me up so it was great to stay in my very own, really nice condo at Kavanaugh's," Laettner said. "That was beautiful. Matt was saying he wants to do something in two or three years and if something happens before then great. If something happens in three years that will be awesome also. They know I had a great time and I'm willing to come up here whenever they want me to so I'm leaving it up to Matt and the people at Pillager.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop .