After an absence of eight years, the Michael Thomas Basketball Camp resumed last week and drew 14 boys to the gymnasium of the Thomson-McDuffie County Recreation and Leisure Services.
Twelve of the boys, ranging from fifth grade to 12th graders, attended the week-long camp from Thomson. The other two boys are from New Jersey and attended while spending the week with their grandparents.
"We had a good week of basketball camp," said Coach Thomas, who will embark on his 26th season as head boys' basketball coach at Thomson High School when the season arrives. "I was pleased with the skills that some of the boys showed on the court. A few of them are real talented for their age."
Coach Thomas, who has amassed more than 400 wins in his coaching career, said being able to resume a local basketball camp again was "special to him."
One of the main reasons for resuming the camp was to offer young boys an opportunity to sharpen their skills in the game of basketball.
"I've always liked working with kids in basketball camps and this one was no different," said Coach Thomas.
In addition, a number of local players and parents had approached and encouraged him to coach the camp again. This year's sponsors included: McDonalds, Domino's Pizza, Arby's and Checkers - all of Thomson.
"You only have a little time with the boys when you put on a camp, so you have to concentrate on the essential things," said Coach Thomas. "Players have to know certain things, so therefore you have to make sure they're doing those things right, first."
As the player becomes more and more knowledgeable of the game, he or she will grasps additional skills, explained the veteran basketball coach.
"Players develop more and more as they play the game," said Coach Thomas, who came to Thomson High School in 1982 after being hired by Bob Smith, former school principal. "I simply tried to teach the kids four or five different things about offense and defense."
Coach Thomas emphasized to those who participated in the camp that it would be beneficial for them to remember the skills he taught, especially if they planned on playing for him someday.
"I tried to show and tell them there are certain ways we do things and why we do them that way," he said. "I want them to get to the point of where they think their way through different situations. I will then follow up with them and point out what they did wrong and ways they could improve."
So much of basketball, Coach Thomas pointed out, is about players being able to think themselves through various situations on the court.
Three of the most important steps he said he wanted the players to take with them from the camp included: self-discipline, hard work and concentration.
"You have to have those three things in order to play basketball," said Coach Thomas.
During the last half-hour of the basketball camp, he shared a video of a workout performed at Thomson High School by members of his 1995 team. Two of those working out included Vontego Cummings and Antron Lee - both of whom now play professional basketball.
Cummings, who plays starting point guard for a team in Italy, just helped his team win the championship three weeks ago. Lee, meanwhile, is playing for the national Olympic team of Puerto Rico.
"I wanted the players who attended the camp to see that you can get there from here," said Coach Thomas. "I want to help them make the connection and bridge the gap."
Those participating in last week's Michael Thomas Basketball Camp were: Mike Berry, Tim Daniels Jr., LaQuinton Fort, Terrance Houston, Ivery McNair, Terrance Bradshaw, ZaQues Stugis, Rakeem Hunt, Talifero Martin, Rakeem Sallywhite, Tai Calhoun, Richard Johnson, Jarmel Gilmore and Jalen Gilmore. Coach Thomas received help in putting on the basketball camp by Christian Wilder, Chris Harris and Deltrick Sneed.