Former NBA player and current Rams Basketball Coach makes impact
Coach Jennings leads summer camp back in hometown
Sports Information Department BC
July 21, 2011
Sports Information Department
Courtesy of: Star Exponent, Jeff Say
It’s not everyday a young player gets to learn from a former NBA player.
But to the youngsters participating in Keith “Mister” Jenning’s annual basketball camp, it’s just like playing with an old friend.
Forget Jenning’s NBA pedigree or his time spent overseas honing his basketball skills, to most of the campers he’s a longtime friend of their parents or someone they go to church with.
Jennings, who played with the Golden State Warriors in the National Basketball Association from 1992-95, has come back to Culpeper since his rookie year in the league to help provide instruction to basketballplayers ranging in age from 6 to 14.
“Being a former NBA player, I have a lot of knowledge about the basketball game,” Jennings said. “Me being able to take some of that knowledge and impart that knowledge that I learned as a young player, that’s just a simple message I try to get to the kids now.”
Jennings, who runs the camp at Hazel River Baptist Church, says he likes spreading his love of the sport, and helping create “complete players.”
|Jennings giving instruction at camp|
“In all of my camps, we teach all the fundamentals,” Jennings said. “We try to teach all of our young players to be complete players. I try to make them understand there’s more than one way to impact the game than just scoring.”
Donovan Noakes, 9, a fifth-grader at Farmington Elementary School, said he liked coming to the camp because it gave him a chance to meet and learn from a former NBA player.
“You don’t know how many NBA players you’re going to meet, so it’s pretty cool,” Noakes said.
Noakes said he learned valuable lessons like dribbling and shooting with his left and also team building exercises.
Jennings, who coaches at NAIA Division II Bluefield College, said he tries to teach the campers that if you work hard, you can achieve your goals.
“Making the NBA wasn’t easy, so showing them the hard work and dedication that you put into it, it will get you to a good level,” Jennings said. “I just try to get that message across to them, that dreams do come true.”
Jennings is also teaching campers that a quality shot isn’t the only tool a player needs.
“We’re learning what we’re good at,” Kameron Buchanan, 9, said. “I’m not good at shooting, but I’m good at stealing and blocking.”
Buchanan was working Thursday with Culpeper County High School’s Josh Majors, who came out to coach at the clinic.
“I feel pretty cool because they come up to me and say they watch my games and want to do the moves I do,” Majors said. “I just try to be a leader, so I really like it.”
Jennings really likes Culpeper, and even though he’s coaching across the state he makes it a point to come home and help out.
“I’m Culpeper to the heart,” Jennings said. “For Josh to help, I thought it would be good for the youth to see him. My niece (Kayla Bryant) has been helping for a while now. To see these kids and know they’ve come up through the camp at some point, I think it’s good for them.”
Keith credits his father, Ken Jennings, with helping him learn the game and says campers get the same instruction he received as his dad coaches along with him.
“My dad has taught me so much. I’m sad he doesn’t get to help the youth the way he used to,” Jennings said. “They could use men that really know the game. To be able to put this on with him has been great.”
“It’s very nice,” Ken Jennings said. “It’s not the money, it’s just to give an outlet to these kids and try to get them away from those Nintendo games all day long.”
Instead, they get a chance to work with a hometown legend.