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Clinic helps players prep for Jim Thorpe All Indian Games

 

Former college standout DeForest Carter, background, provides instruction to kids June 24 at the Herman L. Osceola Gymnasium in Big Cypress as the Tribe prepares to send five youth teams to the Jim Thorpe All Indian Games July 17-22 in California.
Former college standout DeForest Carter, background, provides instruction to kids June 24 at the Herman L. Osceola Gymnasium in Big Cypress as the Tribe prepares to send five youth teams to the Jim Thorpe All Indian Games July 17-22 in California. 

BIG CYPRESS — DeForest Carter’s abundance of energetic enthusiasm for basketball – as a player and an instructor – could stretch from coast-to-coast. Even though the former Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University star is too old to compete in the Jim Thorpe All Indian Games, he still hopes to make an impact for Seminole teams when they venture to Southern California July 17-22.

Carter, 23, led a four-hour clinic June 24 for about 25 youngsters who will represent the Tribe at the Jim Thorpe event. Who better to deliver advice about defense then Embry-Riddle’s all-time leader in steals.

“Offense sells tickets,” Carter said during a water break at the Herman L. Osceola Gymnasium in Big Cypress, “but defense is going to win you the championships.”

Defense was the emphasis for a big chunk of the clinic as Carter and 6-foot-8 Nathan Lang stressed the important aspects and responsibilities of guarding opponents.

“I want them to take a little something home with them; one tidbit here, a defensive principle,” Carter said. “I feel like in today’s game defense is way undervalued. Just to be that defensive stopper can get you a scholarship somewhere. Some guys on my team (at Embry-Riddle) were defensive stoppers.”

“Defense will get you a spot on any team,” said Lang, a member of the Muskogee Creek Nation who moved to Big Cypress about five months ago. “If you can play defense, you can play. If you can’t play defense, nine times out of 10, you won’t play, unless you’re just a pure shooter.”

Carter and Lang play in Native tournaments together. Both enjoyed successful college careers. Carter was an NAIA All-American at Embry-Riddle. Lang started his college career at the University of Arkansas and transferred to Pittsburg State in Kansas.

Lang has played in pro leagues in Germany and Switzerland. He said the peaceful environment in Big Cypress reminds him of where he grew up in Oklahoma.

Ramone Baker provides tough defense during a clinic June 24 at the Herman L. Osceola Gymnasium.
Ramone Baker provides tough defense during a clinic June 24 at the Herman L. Osceola Gymnasium.

“I like it. I’m from Oklahoma, so I like country, laid back. I don’t really like big cities,” he said.

Even though he was at least a foot taller than most of the kids at the clinic, Lang hopes his message doesn’t go over their heads.

“I hope that they get that if you want to play basketball you just can’t say I want to play basketball,” he said. “You’ve got to come out and work at it and you’ve got to do the little things to make yourself better. You can’t just work on special moves.”

The Tribe is expected to bring five basketball teams to the Jim Thorpe games. Big Cypress, Brighton and Hollywood will each have a boys team; girls will be represented by a team from Hollywood and one from Big Cypress and Immokalee.

Ramone Baker, 12, will play for the Brighton boys team. He said learning from Carter, one of the most accomplished athletes in the history of the Tribe, will help.
“He’s a role model,” Ramon said.

When Carter was in high school, he played in Jim Thorpe and the Native American Basketball Invitational. He said playing against different Tribes helped improve his game.

“It was great to see different styles of play. I stole some styles from them. Navajos, they like to run and gun. Taking little things from other Tribes is great,” he said.

When East meets West at Jim Thorpe, Carter wants to make sure the kids compete as hard as they can, but also enjoy their trip.

Youngsters practice for the Jim Thorpe All Indian Games June 24 during a clinic at the Herman L. Osceola Gymnasium in Big Cypress.
Youngsters practice for the Jim Thorpe All Indian Games June 24 during a clinic at the Herman L. Osceola Gymnasium in Big Cypress.

“Have fun,” Carter said. “You’re going to California. We’re on the East Coast and you’re going all the way to the West Coast. Go have some fun, but represent our Tribe and show that we play hard over here on the East side, too.”

The Games are scheduled to be held at Rincon Reservation in Valley Center, Pala Reservation in Pala, and Pechanga Reservation in Temecula. Other sports slated to be held include softball, volleyball, track and field, archery, cross country, golf, tennis and wrestling.

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Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson is senior editor. He has worked for The Seminole Tribune since 2014. He was previously an editor, photographer and reporter for newspapers in Southwest Florida and Connecticut. Contact Kevin at kevinjohnson@semtribe.com.
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