Basketball, science converge in unique camp with help of NBA All-Star

(Photo: WTEN)

WATERVLIET, N.Y. (WTEN) – A first-of-its-kind basketball camp was launched in the Watervliet area this week.

Five-time NBA All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge has been in the area for the week for the basketball camp. He said camps like it didn’t exist when he was young.

“That’s why this is one of my passions as far as trying to show kids how to work,” he said.

The camp, Gifted Athletes Academy: LaMarcus Aldridge Skills Academy, takes an unconventional approach to what looks like a typical basketball camp.

“It’s more than just picking up a basketball and getting to the next level,” Gifted Athletes cofounder Kyle Camper said. “It’s about eating right. It’s about training properly.”

According to Camper, to achieve the best results, a large emphasis is placed on science.

Each camper went through physical testing throughout the week similar to the NBA rookie combine. They measured upper body strength, explosiveness, agility, speed and quickness.

“Teaching all the kids how science can be applied to basketball using the technology,” Albany High School graduate Anthony Prato said.

Prato is part of the 4th Family STEM program that built the equipment.

“It’s all homemade showing the kids that you can really be good at science and not be a super brain,” he said.

Gifted Athletes stresses the gifted. The goal is to be successful both on and off the court using sports to also help improve academic performance.

“I think it will take their games, and hopefully them as a person, to the next level,” Camper said.

The campers find out where their strengths and weaknesses are using a pentagon as a visual reference.

“If they’re in the 80th percentile in speed, that corner of the pentagon is gonna go way out there,” Prato explained. “If they’re maybe not as strong, it’s gonna come in over there. Theoretically, the person who’s the most athletic will have a full pentagon.”

Aldridge has a full pentagon, and he said to get there you have to get back to the basics.

“I feel like the basics of basketball are kind of being forgotten, so I think this camp is teaching them the basics of fundamentals and how to work hard every day,” he said.

Thursday is the last day of the camp, but if it’s successful, the camp could return next year.

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