Last week, Cleveland Cavaliers’ guard Iman Shumpert returned to his alma mater of Oak Park River Forest High School to hold his fourth-annual youth basketball camp.
The camp featured over 150 children who walk the same hallways as Shumpert did at nearby Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School in Oak Park, IL.
“I never had it done for me,” says Shumpert on the importance of his camp. “It was one of the things that I thought would be cool. To see somebody from where you’re from have a camp, to sit down, hangout and ask him whatever questions you were thinking about in science class; I never had that when I was young. So I figured that now that I’m in a position where I can come back and do something as simple as sitting down at lunch with these guys, let them ask me whatever they want to ask, I think it helps a lot.
“These kids look forward to coming back to the camp and showing you that they’re way bigger now,” Shumpert continued. “Some of the kids that are too old for the camp now still come back and hang around and they’re like, ‘I think I can dunk on you now.’ They’re like, ‘Whenever y’all play pickup, I’m trying to play.’ We’re trying to build that excitement up, so that kids want to keep coming back every year and [keep] getting better. A lot of these kids really take these drills to heart. They take them home and they work on them all year so that when this camp comes back around, they can put on a show.”
Aside from getting to talk NBA with Shumpert, the kids took part in drills and received instructions from coaches. Shumpert’s family and friends have assisted with everything since the camp’s start, from signup to cleaning the gym at the end of each day.
Shumpert was all smiles at his camp, despite some campers getting on him for the Cavs failing to win the title.
While the heckling was all in good fun, Shumpert came to the camp with a newfound sense of security, as he had agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract, which he signed last Thursday.
“I’m glad that wasn’t a headache for me,” Shumpert said. “I think the Cavs handled that extremely well. I’m happy about everything that has happened so far in the offseason, and I’m about to start getting ready to get geared up for next year.
“The security and commitment means the world to me. Just to know that we can build off of what we already had and we’re going to add some new additions that are really going to help us. I’m happy with everything.”
After being traded from New York in January, Shumpert quickly engrained himself within the dynamic of the team, and the Cavaliers are banking on him improving his D-and-three role.
The team should only be better next season, as even though there are still dominoes that need to fall—in terms of getting deals done with Tristan Thompson, JR Smith and Matthew Dellavedova—the Cavs’ chemistry and experience should help the team deliver Cleveland a title it so desperately covets.
Image courtesy of justxfred.