Ben Hillyer | The Natchez Democrat — Alcorn State basketball coach, Luther Riley, talks to campers at his overnight basketball camp on the campus of Alcorn State University.

Riley hosts overnight hoops camp

Published 12:05am Thursday, June 28, 2012

LORMAN — For athletes wishing to take the next step in their development of basketball skills, Alcorn State men’s basketball coach Luther Riley’s overnight basketball camp provided such an opportunity.

Young basketball players from all over the Southeast made their way to Alcorn State University Sunday night for Riley’s second-annual overnight camp. The camp lasted through Wednesday, and Riley said he didn’t go easy on the campers.

“The kids came here very excited,” Riley said. “There’s a lot of talent here. We didn’t leave out of the gym (Sunday night) until around 11:30, so the kids are eager to learn.”

Riley hosted several satellite camps throughout Mississippi, including one at Natchez High School June 11 and 12. But he said the overnight camp was for athletes who wanted to further refine their knowledge and skills of the game.

“The skills and drills are a lot more intense at this camp,” Riley said. “We expect a lot more. The better the talent, the more important those skills are.”

The camp also allowed athletes to experience a college environment by having them stay in dormitories and eating food in the cafeteria. Riley said it’s important to get those athletes excited about ASU.

“My whole goal is to re-establish every facet of this basketball program,” Riley said. “When interest grows, attendance will grow. We want to get noticed throughout the nation, that we’re one of the best colleges in the country.”

Nandi Okonkwo, 18, made the trip from Dallas with guest coach Gene Epps, and he said he was working hard with the shooting drills at the camp.

“It’s pretty good,” Okonkwo said of the camp. “They train with you one-on-one, and that helps a lot.”

Travis Hooker, 17, who also came from Dallas, said he was enjoying staying in the dorms and experiencing what college life will be like.

“All the dorms are nice, and it’s a good place to stay,” Hooker said. “I think college is going to be just like this: get up early, stay up late, eat in the cafeteria. It’s a lot more than what you do in high school, so you have to step up.”

Brisby Brown, 15, from Jackson, said the college environment provided a good chance for the campers to mature.

“It gives you a chance to grow up,” Brown said. “In high school, the coaches have to call you and tell you to come to the gym. In college, it’s your responsibility. You have to go get it yourself.”

One feature Riley incorporated in his camp was highly structured three-on-three competitions, where the focal point was creating chemistry with your teammates.

The three-on-three drills had requirements for how many times you passed the ball and also had limits on how much dribbling goes on.

“The (rules) are incorporated to promote team ball and teach them to maximize their teammates,” Riley said. “You play without a bunch of dribbling and teach passing skills. That way, people don’t play selfish, and it’s more team-oriented.”

D’Angelo West, 15, from Jackson, said he enjoyed working with Riley at the camp.

“He’s tough,” West said. “He wants the best out of you.”