Blazers camp exciting at all ages

Vancouver brothers enjoy time at Stotts' first youth camp

By Candace Buckner, Columbian staff writer

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Jackson and Justice Vinyard love basketball so much that they have created their own daily workouts.

Jackson, 11, and Justice, 8, will spend afternoons sweating through a routine of push-ups, sit-ups and squats — 50 each, no cheating. Then the brothers won't leave their Vancouver driveway until they each hit layups from the left and right side of the rim.

So, by Monday morning, the Vinyard boys were more than ready for the start of the annual Trail Blazers Summer Hoops Camp with Terry Stotts in southwest Portland.

"I was so excited," Justice said, "I laid out an outfit for each day of the week that I'm here."

The Vinyards joined nearly 100 campers from ages 7 to 13 on the gymnasium floor of Jackson Middle School for the opening of the five-day camp.

Jackson instantly recognized the tall guy in shorts as the Blazers head coach, who watched over the session as a band of camp leaders orchestrated tutorials and fundamental drills.

"Oh, I just said, 'What's up.' That's pretty much it," Jackson said, explaining his brief interaction with Stotts. "He said, 'What's uuup!' "

Squeaking sneakers and bouncing basketballs provided the background ambiance as Stotts roamed the gym. He applauded effort when the kids executed a tricky baseline-to-baseline layup drill. On one occasion, he gently directed a worn-out camper in need of a timeout over to his grandfather.

While much of the instruction came from the camp coaches, Stotts greeted the youthful group with words he often shares with his own Blazers.

"Play hard and have a good attitude and try to get better," said Stotts, who's entering his second year with the Blazers. "This is the first time I actually had my name on a camp, but obviously I've been involved in camps as a camper (and) as a coach throughout my life.

"It's a really good event. Coaches are doing a terrific job."

Between a trip to Las Vegas to watch his point guard Damian Lillard participate in another workout -- the U.S. Basketball mini-camp -- Stotts will make several appearances at his own camp. Jackson and Justice, however, plan to soak up all the instruction they can get through Friday.

Jackson, a basketball junkie who called Lillard his favorite Blazer, picked out gray and red Adidas to match his attire. He attended the camp with much of his Vancouver Havoc AAU team.

By mid-morning, he had already picked up new skills.

"I've played basketball for a long, long time now," Jackson said, emphasizing his hoops history as if he's entering his 11th year in the NBA and not simply approaching his 12th birthday. "(But) there are certain drills here that I haven't really done that are new to me. They're really fun."

Justice, the classic little brother who has followed Jackson's passion to the hardwood, boasted that he can already emulate the soft-touch fadeaway jump shot of his favorite Blazer, LaMarcus Aldridge.

He said he hopes to learn how to improve his defense at the camp. However after completing one dribbling drill, Justice had discovered a new talent.

"I can finally go through my legs now!" Justice exclaimed.