Basketball camps help build the foundation |

Basketball camps help build the foundation

Christopher Kamrani, The Park Record

"If you’re building a house, you have to have a good foundation," said former University of Utah standout Johnnie Bryant. "Then you work up from there."

Bryant is one of six coaches at the Hot Shot Basketball Camps (HSB) taking place this week at Park City High School. The Oakland, Calif., native played at the University of Utah for two years before playing professionally overseas in Germany. Nowadays, when Bryant isn’t running his own basketball clinic in Salt Lake City (Bryant Sports Academy), he is doing his part by teaching the intricacies of the game of basketball with HSB.

"Start with basics, then build up," said Bryant, who is in his second year with the HSB Camps.

Monday, the first day of the camp, featured 53 athletes, 21 more than a year ago, according to camp founder and director Carson Sofro.

As children ranging from kindergarten to high school stretched out, Sofro and his coaches made sure to let them know what kind of work they were getting into. There were 15 minutes of intensive stretching and sprinting before anyone even lined up for a drill or touched a basketball.

After stretching, the players formed two elongated lines on opposite sides of the Park City High School gym where they were schooled on how to shuffle their feet in a defensive stance.

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"You go over and over the things you learned in the first day," said camp coach Michael Quinney, a standout at San Jose State University and former head coach at Oakland Tech High School in Oakland, Calif. "But then you add to it as the week goes on. You don’t want them to forget. It’s a progression thing. We want to get them to be in that habit."

After playing at San Jose State, Quinney played professionally in France. This is his first year with the camp.

"It’s going pretty well," he said. "It’s a different type of camp. This camp is to develop kids with fundamentals, to get a kid going in the right direction, basketball-wise; showing them how to play basketball the right way, rather than just throwing the ball out there."

Quinney was introduced to the camp through friend and fellow HSB coach Kevin Sweetwyne. The camps fell in line with what Quinney believes should be taught in basketball.

"I said I’m going to give this my 100 percent," he said.

Quinney said any time he works with a camper who wants to give it their all, he will put in just as much work. He walked around each line as kids shuffled their feet and kept their defensive stance for more than 10 minutes. He gave high-fives to kids who needed encouragement.

"If a kid’s willing to learn, it’s not frustrating," he said. "If they’re willing, it’s no problem."

Asked if it’s ever frustrating to run camps often without using a ball, Bryant said he takes the same approach to coaching as to playing.

"Not for me," he said. "I look at it just like when I had the challenge of playing professionally or even collegiately. You have to find different ways to teach kids; you can’t just do it your way."

Bryant said he has learned in coaching, as most coaches have, that different children respond to different forms of coaching and communication.

"You have to teach them their way," he said.

Sofro, who stands at 6-foot-8, took charge of the youngest group of camp participants Monday, playing games and teaching them how to stay in certain stances for defensive purposes.

As Sofro fielded questions, the winner of one of the games showed off his shirt to Sofro at the end of the day. He thanked Sofro, and when his mother asked what he did to win the game, the youngster said, "I just listened."