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Native Top 50 Camp: Day 1

06/29/2017, 2:30pm CDT
By Max Ivany

I'm excited to be part of a unique basketball experience over the next 4 days; the Native Top 50 Basketball Camp, an event being put on by Global Sports Elite and it's Founder, Derrick Stevens.

The camp has a unique flavor from the uniforms, to the location and it's participants...everyone is Native American.  Did you know that there are 576 Indigenous self governing tribes in the United States & Canada? Resident expert on Native American Sports, Brent Cawhee informed me of this earlier this morning.

Speaking of early, all of us, including coaches and evaluators were up at 04:30 am , and hit the field at 05:45 for their stretching and agility exercises. This cap is top shelf both in the talent of the players but also in the coaches and trainers involved. The agility portion of the camp is being conducted by my colleague Francisco Lujan. I've worked with him at the NBA Draft Combine as well as pro combines for the CFL, NHL and the All American Football Showcase in San Antonio, TX

Halfway through our warm ups this morning we were met by a vicious thunderstorm which caused flash floods in the area. Back to the dorms we went to ride it out, and about 2 hours later the players and staff went across campus to fuel up with a healthy breakfast to prepare for the day.

This is as good a time as any for me to editorialize. I've been around tens of thousands of young people at various basketball tournaments, camps and clinics.  The level of these kids play is still to be determined but I've ever met a more polite group.

These young people are a credit to their families and their respective tribal nations as their decorum was outstanding.  Please and thank you was everywhere.  Kids went out of their way to hold doors open. When they gathered in their dorm lobby they were having fun but at the same time, quiet and orderly.

Despite having kerosene and fire (boys and girls) in the same dorms, but on opposite ends of the building neither sex violated the trust of the staff and university by trying to get together for any shenanigans.  In short, these young folks were model citizens.

Now...let's see if they can play some basketball!

After a 90 minute session of footwork drills (ladder work etc), the players finally got to touch a basketball. They did so under the direction of Coach Milt Palacio who had 7 years of NBA under his belt and 4 years in Europe.  The former Colorado State PG will forever be remembered by Celtics fans as "Miracle "Milt" for his 2000 steal and half court buzzer beater vs the Nets .

Coach Palacio isn't a kicker or screamer.  He commands respect and gets his point across while at the same time emphasizing "fun" to all the campers.  The kids are responding to his style, big time.