Boys Learn Fun and Fundamentals at USA Basketball Chicago Regional Camp
At the start of USA Basketball’s Chicago Boys Regional Camp, volunteer coach Nick LoGalbo had the players look down at their jerseys.
After the boys read “USA Basketball Youth” on their chests, LoGalbo — who also is the coach at Chicago’s Lane Tech High School — told them to make sure they appreciate the opportunity to learn about the game.
That’s the goal USA Basketball head coach/youth division coach director Don Showalter had for the weekend as he led a team of volunteer coaches during the two-day camp on June 9 and 10 at Bolingbrook High School, just outside Chicago.
Showalter, who has been coach director for USA Basketball’s youth division since 2016 and head coach of USA Basketball men’s U16 and U17 national teams since 2009, started the regional camps three years ago and ran this past weekend’s camp, which taught basketball fundamentals to boys ages 10-16.
The weekend featured various fundamental drills, including defense, shooting and 3x3 drills. LoGalbo ran through the defensive drills, and Showalter ran the shooting drills.
During the drills, Showalter and his coaches used examples of current and former USA Basketball players, such as Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, to describe how the drills can help them learn how to play like some of the best players in the world.
Showalter said during the weekend that he saw exactly what he was looking for: kids that were driven to learn how to be better on the hardwood.
“We find out that kids that come to our camps are very basketball-centered,” Showalter said. “Their parents aren’t just dropping them off for a babysitting thing. They really want to get better. That’s the player we really like to instruct.”
Although the camp primarily taught fundamentals, most of the older participants, who are in high school, already had gone through some of Showalter’s drills.
Tyler Burrows, Charlie Burd and Shance Morris, a trio of the older participants, said although the drills were familiar, they were drawn to the camp because of the opportunity to nail down the fundamentals.
Morris, who plays for Bolingbrook, said it was cool to see the USA Basketball banners in the gym where he played this past year, and that really drove home the unique opportunity he had to participate.
“Not everybody could do this,” he said.
Burd and Burrows both said defensive development was a reason they attended the camp, and that redoing fundamentals is a great help in that regard. All three said it was a cool feeling to put on a jersey that said USA Basketball.
While the older participants were reinforcing their skills, the younger ones were learning them for the first time.
Tim Roehrig and Patrick Meyer brought their sons, Jonah Roehrig and Ian Meyer, to Bolingbrook for the weekend camp. Roehrig and Meyer both came from Kaukauna, Wisconsin, having heard about the camp through social media.
What made the two dads drive their sons the three and a half hours to Bolingbrook for the camp, however, was the opportunity to learn under Showalter, a nine-time USA Basketball Developmental Coach of the Year award winner.
“We knew he was coaching at some of the highest levels in the United States,” Roehrig said. “You want to learn from that guy.”
Both Ian and Jonah, 11, already had played basketball together before the camp, and Ian said it was fun to play together with USA Basketball.
“I think it’s a little special when you put on the red, white and blue,” Roehrig said.
“The younger kids are just trying to get acclimated to, hey, I love the game of basketball and here’s how we’re going to do it,” Showalter said. “The older kids, you try and give a little more specifics too.”
One of the challenges Showalter said he faces is teaching proper shooting form. One of the reasons for this is because of how the NBA has become more of a 3-point shooting league, and a young player’s shooting form can suffer for it.
“When you walk into a camp, the first thing you see is kids taking 3-point shots,” Showalter said. “That’s why their form is so terrible, because they’re taking shots that are way too far out for them.”
Showalter said the way to combat this is by persistent teaching — the same kind he used over the weekend.
“They hear it here, and then they go to another coach or another team and they hear the same thing again, and they’re starting to get the feedback that this is the right way to do it,” Showalter said.