Jamal Sims and local alumni host free basketball camp at Valley High School

Published 3:57 pm Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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Throughout the summer, several former athletes and current coaches have put together camps and found ways to give back to the youth in Chambers County. The Chambers County basketball camp began on Wednesday at Valley High School and was another example of the community’s effort to give back to younger athletes. 

Jamal Sims graduated from LaFayette High School in 2015 and currently serves as the head coach for Valley’s junior high basketball team. Sims developed the idea for the camp as a way to bring the county together through the area’s love of basketball. 

“I just know that a lot of guys love basketball around here,” Sims said. “I know there’s a lot of people in the community that care about it.” 

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The camp was designed to bring in kids from all over Chambers County and surrounding areas. Several high schools in the areas were busy attending playdates on Wednesday, but there was still a large turnout for the event. 

The camp involved young athletes from middle school and high school. The most important part about the camp for Sims was the ability to provide it at no cost to the campers. 

Skills camps during the summer can cost anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars at the youth and high school levels. Sims wanted there to be no excuse for kids in the area to show up and develop their skills. 

“My thought about it being free was, I never went to a camp when I was in school. All the way through playing, I never went to an individual skills camp,” Sims said. “A lot of people feel like spending money on camps like that can be a waste of money. It takes out the excuse of not being able to afford it. Every kid who wanted to show up could show up. If you want to hoop and get better, you can.” 

Sims had several alumni from around the area help with the camp. Former LaFayette players Corey Boston and Trayvon Barnes helped coach the camp. Boston played for Concord University last season and Barnes currently plays overseas professionally. Justin Brooks also helped coach players on Wednesday. Brooks played basketball at Auburn and North Carolina A&T. 

The camp began at 9 A.M. on Wednesday and wrapped up at noon with the campers set to compete at the same times again on Thursday. Wednesday’s camp was mostly focused on building skills with individual drills and fundamental work. Thursday will be more focused on competitions. The campers will separate into teams on Thursday, with the winning teams receiving awards. 

The campers received a great opportunity to get better, but it also gave the campers an opportunity for the coaches at the camp to serve as role models to the youth in the area. 

“Some people need that,” Sims said. “A lot of people point to people that don’t have men in their lives, but even guys who have older siblings and dads like to look at guys closer to their age and look at them as role models.” 

Valley will be in unfamiliar territory in 2024-25 as the Rams will take the court under a new head coach for the first time in more than two decades. 

This summer serves as an important juncture for Valley’s coaching staff as it is an early chance for Sims, new head coach Robert Cotton and the rest of the coaching staff to build relationships with the team and players in the community. 

“I coached all these guys in middle school, but it’s been a while,” Sims said. “Newer people building in with them and getting to know them, especially the young guys. The age ranges from 10 to 17 out here. For a 10-year-old working with high school coaches, you build that early on. Relationships are a big part of coaching. Guys that know you, want to play for you. It is big for me and Coach Cotton to get in here and work with these guys early on.”