Brandon Jennings’ experience in Europe—along with hard work and good coaching in the right situation—was widely credited with some of the young point guard’s early success. Not only because of the competition he was playing against, but also because of the maturity he gained during the times, and they were frequent, when he wasn’t playing.
That year abroad was surely a whirlwind. And you’d have to assume that his past season, leading the Bucks to the playoffs, was an exhilarating experience all its own. There was much happening on a daily basis during these last two formative years, and, like with anyone’s memory, some events stick out in Brandon’s mind more than others. The 55-point game must stick out. The NBA Draft must stick out (both when he was selected in ’09 and when he blogged with SLAM this year). Game 7 of this year’s First Round, when the Bucks were eliminated, must stick out.
So does anything about Jennings’ Lottomatica Roma team heading to Malaga, Spain to take on Unicaja in early March 2009 stick out?
“I probably didn’t get a chance to play,” he says, laughing, while at the same time managing to come across completely serious.
Um, not quite. He’s played an entire season and playoffs in a different league in a different continent since, so you can’t blame his cloudy recollection. So let’s clear that up:
In nearly 30 minutes of play off the bench, Jennings had a team high 17 points on 6/13 shooting and swiped two steals.
That stellar game surely to boosted BJ’s confidence, helped the team and caught the eye of some NBA scouts. But it wasn’t just them whom he impressed. Jennings’ play and demeanor also grabbed the head of a local basketball camp, who had not seen him play before. The impression he left, coupled with his play this past season, was enough warrant to Brandon a slot as the guest star at Malaga’s World of Basket Basketball Camp.
Bringing in an NBA player for the kids has become a trademark of W.o.B. In years past, the camp has featured heavyweights like Paul Pierce, Jason Kidd and Lamar Odom, as well as last summer’s duo of Carmelo Anthony and Nate Robinson.
While Brandon is the youngest and most unestablished to make the journey, that’s not an unfamiliar role for the Compton-native. And showing he’s comfortable and belongs typically hasn’t taken long, either.
“I went to a couple basketball camps when I was younger, but I wasn’t going to big players’ camps, to tell you the truth,” he admits. Still, he understands that it’s a cool opportunity for kids to see an NBA star in person, let alone to have that dude help out with their games. And it’s going to be an equally exciting experience for Brandon. “This is going to be my first time [hosting a basketball camp]. And for me to have my first basketball camp in a different country, it’s pretty cool.”
Plus, he’s enthused about what the opportunity can bring to Under Armour Basketball. “I think it’s gonna help Under Armour a lot,” he explains confidently. “The fact I had a pretty good season this year, and now to go to Spain—now we’re trying to be global with the basketball [brand]. Spain is a great start, and then I get to go to China, too, about a week after for a little event [with Yao Ming]. I think we’re gonna get a lot of exposure and it’s gonna be really big for us.”
No doubt about that. Who wouldn’t want to be near the beautiful beaches of Malaga, taking in Spain’s rich culture for a couple weeks? And all while you’re playing ball, helping out kids who idolize you and hope to one day follow in your footsteps, and building your brand? Now that’s gotta be the kind of memory that, even as his career continues to blossom and his continues to illuminate Milwaukee during its dark, cold winters, is going to stick out to Brandon. And you know these kids won’t forget about it, either.
World of Basket Basketball Camp offers two sessions, from July 4th-10th or July 11th-17th and is open to boys and girls 6-18 years old. For more info on the camp or registration information, you can hit up their site.