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Pro Skills Camp: Youngsters hone basketball, life skills

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

While many students on spring break this week are relaxing at home, more than 60 of them are spending their time in Jonesboro, improving their basketball and life skills.

This week, The Sports and Fitness Factory, formerly Hoops Fitness, is hosting its second annual B'Ball 101 Spring Break Pro Skills Camp. The camp, hosted by professional basketball trainer Dorian Lee, gives students a chance to interact with professional athletes, and develop their character.

Lee, president and CEO of The Sports and Fitness Factory and the B'Ball 101 training program, said the students in this year's spring break camp are from all over metro Atlanta, and range in age from 7 to 17. He said the camp is a healthier alternative to traditional spring breaks.

"During their idle time, they need to be involved in something," Lee said. "I like to see the effort. They weren't forced to be here, they chose to be here.

"Spring break is a break from academics, so we are really talking about life skills," Lee continued. "We want to hit home that the kids are in control of their own destiny. If you want to be a law-abiding citizen, or a billionaire, you are going to have to do things that are consistent with that."

On Tuesday, prior to morning practices, students received mentoring on making positive choices. Throughout the day, students practiced ball-handling skills, fitness drills, creating space between the shooter and the defenders, and shooting off a pass, or dribble.

Justin Thomas, a May 2008 graduate of Valdosta State University, and a former member of its basketball team, serves as one of the camp's instructors.

"Just that overall knowledge they are getting is so beneficial," said Thomas. "I think what you put into it, is what you get out of it."

Travares Harris, 15, a freshman at Mundy's Mill High School, said he hopes to become an accountant. He believes the tools he is gaining from the camp may help him acquire a scholarship to a top-ranked school.

"I want to play college ball, but I really want to be an accountant," Harris said. "[The camp] helps you understand the rules and regulations of the game. It may get me a good scholarship to a school."

Lee, who gets paid to train professional athletes, said he has helped produce several WNBA players. He said the students at this week's camp will get the benefit of the same drills and exercises.

"We do very big camps during the summer and this was just another opportunity," said Lee. "A lot of kids in here want to become professional athletes. All of them aren't going to make it, but they are going to get something out of it - discipline, work ethic ... you can apply that to any discipline in the world."

B'Ball 101 will host a summer camp starting in June, in which participants will receive a free SAT preparation course.

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On the net:

B'Ball 101: www.bball101.com