Make no mistake about it, Khris Middleton knows where home is.
High school: Porter-Gaud
College: Texas A&M
NBA: Milwaukee Bucks (2013-14); Detroit Pistons (2012-13)
Last season: Averaged 12.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game
The former Porter-Gaud School star matriculated to Texas A&M out of high school, and is currently playing in the NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks. But Middleton says Charleston will always be home for him, regardless of where his playing career takes him.
Middleton is spending this weekend hosting the second annual Khris Middleton Skills Academy basketball camp at his alma mater. The camp, for boys and girls ages 9-17, runs through Sunday afternoon. Some of the proceeds from the camp will benefit the local Big Brothers Big Sisters program of the Carolina Youth Development Center.
"It's very important for me to do this because growing up here, I always had the opportunity to go to camps, basketball camps and other types of camps," said Middleton. "Some of my best memories as a child came at camp and I know how important it is. This is an opportunity for me to make it possible for others to attend camp and experience some of the same things that I was able to experience as a kid."
One of the highlights of the morning session on Friday was the ever-popular game of knockout, played by the camp counselors in front of the nearly 70 campers. Middleton advanced to the finals against current Porter-Gaud girls' star Beau Faith, who ended up beating Middleton with a three-pointer. Faith eliminated three other male counselors in the shootout.
"She's really good," laughed Middleton. "She got me, no doubt about it."
Porter-Gaud athletic director Ed Steers is not surprised that Middleton is so giving of his time to young people.
"He really is a great person, a really sweet guy with a huge heart," said Steers. "Khris worked tremendously hard to get where he is and he is quick to thank those who helped him along the way. He's living a dream that so many kids dream and he's achieved it the right way. He is a great example to all kids."
Middleton can think of no other place he would rather do a basketball camp, especially when he has a chance to rekindle friendships with former teammates at Porter-Gaud.
"To be able to do it here at Porter-Gaud, basically where it all started for me in terms of playing high level basketball, it's really special," he said. "I want to give back to the community and to Porter-Gaud. It's a lot of fun for me to be here.
"My parents are still here in Charleston and I have a lot of family here so it's great to be back. I have some former teammates and some friends here helping out so it's a fun time. Anytime basketball is involved, it's fun for me. I don't see this as work at all."
Basketball, however, is work for about seven months of the year for Middleton, who just completed his second season in the NBA. He was drafted by the Detroit Pistons after spending three years at Texas A&M, but was traded by the Pistons to Milwaukee last December. He averaged 12.1 points per game for the Bucks this season and will return to Milwaukee with one year remaining on his contract.
Middleton has added considerable muscle to his 6-7 frame since his prep days and said he is adjusting to basketball and life as a professional athlete.
"The biggest adjustment was the speed and physicality of the players," Middleton said. "It's a tough grind sometimes. Playing 82 games and the travel, it can wear you down. It's definitely something you have to learn and adjust to. If you don't, you can play your way out of the league very quickly."
One of the messages Middleton conveys to campers is the importance of getting an education. He said completing his college degree is high on his own priority list.
"I will take some classes this fall and then finish up next spring. Getting that degree is something that is very important to me and my family," he said.
James commits to Abilene Christian
Porter-Gaud star K.J. James has committed to play basketball at Abilene Christian, he announced Friday.
James, a 6-5 forward, was an All-Lowcountry pick for the Cylcones last season. Abilene Christian, a school of about 4,400 in Abilene, Texas, is a member of the Division I Southland Conference. The Wildcats, coached by Joe Golding, were 11-20 last season.