By Tim Gardner
Every third week of July, the Avery Parks and Recreation Department’s Rock Gym is the home of the Tommy Burleson Basketball Camp. The 36th year of the camp was held July 16-20 this year.
Held in collaboration with the Parks and Recreation Department, the camp is designed to teach players fundamentals, help them develop and hone individual skills offensively and defensively and instill the confidence that all young players should acquire in order to increase their basketball potential. More than fifty boys and girls ranging in age from 9 to 14 years attended the 2018 camp under the watchful eyes of 7-foot-2-inch Tommy Burleson, his camp staff and guest clinicians.
Each five-day session was filled with the kind of hands-on teaching that will make a difference in the players’ game. From beginning to end, campers were exposed to a high level of intense basketball instruction and motivation that benefited beginners and experienced players alike.
The camp was founded in 1983 by Burleson, the legendary basketball star and Avery County native who was an All-American at Newland and Avery County High Schools and North Carolina State University. He also played on the 1972 United States Olympics team and helped lead the N.C. State Wolfpack to an undefeated (27-0) season in 1972-73 and a 30-1 record and the national championship the following season (1973-’74) before a professional playing career in the National Basketball Association.
“I believe my camp should was fun for all who attended this year as well as a great learning experience for them,” Burleson said. “Our staff takes a personal interest in each camper to help them improve their basketball skills and I was very pleased with the camp. I saw a tremendous amount of basketball potential from our campers with some displaying exceptional abilities. I believe those who participated in the camp will keep improving as players and athletes.”
The camp’s clinicians annually include some of the most noted names in college basketball. They complete the nucleus of the camp’s instructional corps, giving participants first-hand insight and training from those who best know what it takes to improve their game.
This year’s camp clinicians and guest lecturers included: Hugh Durham, David Thompson and Eddie Biedenbach. Durham is one of the winningest coaches in college basketball history with stints at the University of Georgia and Florida State and Jacksonville universities. After a stellar playing career at FSU, Durham coached Florida State to the 1972 National Championship game and Georgia to the 1983 Eastern Regional Championship with an upset victory over defending National Champion North Carolina. Thompson, Burleson’s teammate at N.C. State and a fellow-NBA player, is widely acclaimed as the greatest player in Atlantic Coast Conference history. Biedenbach also is a former N.C. State and NBA player. Additionally, he is a former head coach at Davidson, UNC-Asheville and UNC-Wilmington and a two-time assistant at N.C. State, including when Burleson and Thompson played there.
The next Tommy Burleson Basketball Camp will run July 15-19, 2019.