North Texas men’s basketball program connects with community through summer training camps

North Texas men’s basketball program connects with community through summer training camps

North Texas men’s basketball program connects with community through summer training camps
June 28
20:30 2017

Players and coaches from the North Texas men’s basketball program spent part of their summer break reaching out to young athletes through a series of training camps designed to press the importance of fundamentals and sportsmanship.

Drawing from the local community, the training camp, which ran from June 19 to 22, gave children an introduction into college athletics and a chance to learn skills from college players. The camps were also designed to provide a well-defined path for children of all ages and skill levels who might wish to pursue a future in college basketball.

“They participate in a variety of competitions and skill activities emphasizing the fundamentals, along with games where they are able to implement everything they have learned,” said T.J. Cox, camp director and graduate assistant coach.

Men’s basketball head coach Grant McCasland hopes by introducing kids to a college sports environment he will help inspire young players to one day play for him.

“I love having them on our campus because this is where we want them to ultimately be,” McCasland said. “They get to come and see people they might see on television or see play in games and get to interact with them. There is a mentorship there at that age, so they get to learn basketball and be around good role models.”

Advertising Junior Bryce Jackson (left) and Integrative Studies Sophomore AJ Lawson (center) sign t-shirts for the children at the end of junior basketball camp at UNT. Katie Jenkins

According to the camp coaches, being able to interact with Mean Green players has a huge effect on the kids who participate.

“I had a couple of kids who came to the games last year who knew us and who really wanted to meet us,” sophomore guard A.J. Lawson said. “For me to be their coach, I know I feel good about it, and I know the kids feel good about it as well.”

The camp hosted players ranging from grades four to 12 and mainly consisted of local children. Parents and grandparents also appreciated the unique opportunity to send their kids to a camp like this.

“We really wanted to open the doors to anyone and everyone,” Cox said. “Our goals were to reach out to the surrounding community and build a relationship with the children and their families and establish a strong foundation of basketball skills.”

Many of the parents were just as excited as the children to be able to interact with North Texas players and the Mean Green’s new head coach.

“It means a lot to the kids, and it probably means a lot to North Texas,” said Jerry Goolsby, a grandparent and Mean Green basketball fan. “Our grandchildren have gone to a lot of camps, but these are the best group of coaches I’ve ever seen. They are really tuned in, and they’re constantly motivating the kids. North Texas is all our grandkids can talk about now.”

McCasland enters his first season as North Texas’ head coach and was hired in March to replace former head coach Tony Benford. McCasland spent last season at Arkansas State University, leading the Red Wolves to the second-best turnaround in Division I basketball in 2016 with a 20-12 record.

“Our staff is tremendous,” McCasland said. “We talk about three things here: believe, serve and compete. Honestly, in our heart, we want to serve people and try to do everything we can to make their experience better. It means a lot to us.”

Featured Image: During five-on-five games at UNT’s junior basketball camp, kids in the eight to nine year old group play each other at the university volleyball complex gym. Katie Jenkins

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David Urbanik

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