The University hosts summer camps for kids who are into computers, aspiring writers, the academically gifted and cheerleaders. Its newest camp, however, has great potential to lift the Cavalier men’s basketball program into the elite ranks.
The NBA Top 100 Camp, for at least the next four Junes, will bring 100 of the nation’s best high school basketball players to Grounds for a mix of basketball, academic preparation, life skills training and community service. The camp is sponsored by the National Basketball Players Association, which provides 25 current or former NBA players as mentors.
The camp’s alumni list is impressive, including current NBA stars such as Lamar Odom, Emeka Okafor, Jermaine O’Neal, Richard Jefferson and Baron Davis.
“One of the things we’re trying to do to build the program is to increase the exposure,” says Cavalier head coach Dave Leitao. Most big-time recruits haven’t been to Charlottesville (and probably don’t read many of the magazines that continually name it one of the nation’s most livable cities). Top 100 campers will play in the John Paul Jones Arena—a major draw for camp organizers, Leitao says—and will spend time on Grounds, soaking in the University’s educational environment.
Landing the camp is “a huge deal” for the basketball program, says Chris Wallace, who covers basketball recruiting for CavsCorner.com. It will be especially helpful in recruiting the 20 or so rising high school juniors who generally attend, he says. Most rising seniors are further along in their decision process and may be less inclined to consider a new school.
NCAA rules prohibit the coaching staff from making contact with the players while they are in camp, though they may meet with the players before or afterward.