Over the past decade, the Washington, D.C. region has been a breeding ground for some of National Basketball Association’s top talent.
Two of those players, Ty Lawson and Victor Oladipo, decided to give back to the region by sponsoring the inaugural Ty Lawson and Victor Oladipo All-American Camp last week at DeMatha Catholic High School.
Sixty of North America’s top high school players, including eight from Prince George’s County, were selected to take part in the camp, which included drills, workouts and games with direction from some of the area’s top instructors, including Lawson.
Lawson, a Clinton native, attended Bishop McNamara in 2003 before transferring to and graduating in 2005 from Virginia’s Oak Hill Academy. He was drafted by the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves and traded to his current team, the Denver Nuggets, in 2009.
He said that when he was in high school, there weren’t a whole lot of camps such as this one for youth to display their skills in front of college coaches.
From the day the camp opened on July 9 to Friday when it ended, more than 100 coaches from major collegiate athletic programs lined the perimeter of DeMatha’s Morgan and Kathy Wootten Gymnasium to get a glimpse of some of the region’s top prospective basketball talent.
But that was only part of the reason why Lawson wanted to be apart of the camp.
“This is where I came from. I was born and bred here,” Lawson said. “So, just coming back and seeing kids from here doing well makes me feel good.”
The eight Prince George’s participants were Potomac’s Randall Brodie, Largo’s Abdulai Bundu, DeMatha’s DJ Harvey, National Christian’s Christian Matthews, Riverdale Baptist’s Taron Oliver and Kenny Wormley and Paul VI’s Franklin Howard (Suitland resident) and Corey Manigault (Upper Marlboro).
“They’re pretty talented,” Lawson said about the players in attendance. “I was just saying that, I think they’re better than us when we [were] in high school. Everybody’s a little more athletic than I think we were. It’s a pretty good crop.”
The players were selected by a panel of writers and scouts who traveled for the specific purpose of finding the top players for an invitation to the camp, according to camp manager Keith Stevens. The players didn’t have to pay for anything besides their travel expenses to and from Maryland.
Stevens, who also heads Team Takeover, one of the top Amateur Athletic Union teams in the country, said that the camp lived up to his expectations.
“The biggest thing was garnering the kids exposure,” Stevens said. “We have so many kids — you know you get the LeBron [James] camps, the Reebok camps, which are prestigious camps, but it’s not enough for everybody. And you could probably never get enough for everybody, but I thought this was another platform where we could give them the opportunity to get exposure in a intimate setting with proper coaching. And have guys come and watch.”
He said that Lawson and Oladipo were all-in once he approached them with the idea for the camp.
Brodie, a rising junior, said that it helps to see guys from the same part of the world be successful but still come back.
“It shows that the DMV is very talented in basketball,” Brodie said. “Not just on the West Coast or East Coast.”
Harvey, one of the youngest players at the camp, appreciated every moment he had to learn from everyone.
“It was great — playing against older kids,” Harvey said. “Great mentors led by example — told me what I did wrong, told me what I did right, told me what I can work on, told me always keep my head up.”
The rising senior, Oliver, felt like he showed the coaches in attendance some versatility.
“I feel like I showed them a different side of my game that I’m pretty sure they haven’t seen,” Oliver said.
The one common theme among the player reactions was that they all had a good time.
Stevens said that he expects there to be a second camp next year.