The screeching noise made by sneakers as they start, stop and shift directions on a basketball court, punctuated by the bouncing of basketballs, is a summer symphony to many youngsters in the Lowcountry.
Summer basketball camps are in session throughout the area, and it’s an opportunity for kids as young as 7 through the teen years to learn basketball the right way.
“We teach fundamentals, and that goes hand in hand with having fun,” explains Citadel basketball coach Chuck Driesell.
“Like anything in life, if you’re not good at it, you’re not going to have fun. You’re not going to stick with it. When these kids come to me, I feel like I have the obligation to teach them the basic fundamentals. Dribbling. Shooting. Nothing complex. Just the basics.”
“We learn all the fundamentals. We learn how to dribble. We learn defense. We learn everything in basketball,” said Elizabeth Snyder, a 12-year-old who attends Porter-Gaud.
“I enjoy it. I’m developing skills. Ball-handling, shooting, passing, defense, all those things,” added Savannah Soltys, a 13-year-old who attends Ashley Hall.
Driesell’s father is Lefty Driesell, the longtime coach at Maryland. So Chuck was at camp throughout his formative years.
He worked camps as an instructor when he played at Maryland and has continued with them through his coaching career. So he knows the importance of summer camps in teaching youngsters but also in spreading the news about his team’s basketball program.
“It’s an opportunity for me to have parents come in and see my staff. A lot of players can work at the camp,” Driesell said. “It’s great from a community standpoint in terms of letting outside people get to know your program. That can turn into people coming to games and supporting the teams.”
At the end of the session, coaches will evaluate the campers’ strengths and weaknesses so they will know what skills to work on the rest of the summer. They receive a basketball and a camp T-shirt, and there is an awards ceremony.
Driesell doesn’t promise to deliver the next Michael Jordan after a week of instruction, but he does expect to deliver a better player than the one who arrived at camp.
“We’ve only got your for one week, so you better learn something,” he said. “We give you the basics. You have to go home and work.”
All three local colleges have camps of various levels remaining, including individual and team.