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Tribal youth participate in Jamal Mashburn’s Seminole Basketball Skills Clinic

By Naji Tobias

Run, dribble, jump, shoot.

Scores of Tribal youth from the Big Cypress, Brighton and Hollywood Reservations made their way to their gymnasiums last month to take part in Jamal Mashburn’s Seminole Basketball Skills Clinic.

Co-sponsored by Jamal Mashburn and Seminole Sports Management – a branch of Seminole Media Productions – Mashburn’s mentor, Reginald Kitchen, along with clinic trainers Sudan Ellington and Hanif Hill, took the Tribal youngsters through a host of dribbling, shooting and conditioning drills geared toward honing their basketball fundamentals and skills.

In addition, Kitchen, Ellington and Hill rounded the group of youth after a lunch break to talk about a slew of concepts primarily centering on the importance of making positive decisions in all facets of their lives.

“Every day, you should evaluate and assess yourself,” Ellington said. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s good or bad. You just want to make sure you’re in line with whatever your priorities are. You should always want to practice the concepts of self-assessment, self-governance and self-improvement. You should want to better yourself every day of your life.”

Hill said he learned a lot from the Tribal youth and noted the excitement that transpired throughout the course of the day-long basketball clinic.

“It’s excellent for us to get the opportunity to come out here,” Hill said. “It was great to show these kids on the reservation a set of fundamentals they can take to apply it to other parts of their lives. With this clinic, they got to see different avenues of how to play basketball. They saw how motivated we are in the game. It was a fun experience.”

The Jamal Mashburn Seminole Basketball Skills Clinic took place in Big Cypress on Oct. 8; took place in Brighton on Oct. 15; and took place in Hollywood on Oct. 22, giving youth from many reservations the chance to learn from an NBA All-Star. Dozens turned out to participate on each day.

Brighton Tribal citizen Philip Jones, 18, was among the enthusiastic Seminole basketball campers who actively got involved with the initiative.

“It was great to come out here to learn some more fundamentals,” said Jones, who is slated to start as a junior point guard for the 2011-2012 Okeechobee Brahmans varsity basketball team.

“I’m just trying to improve my skills and get better as a basketball players,” Jones continued. “I was really excited about the opportunity to spend time and get advice from Jamal Mashburn. He was one of the top NBA players when he came out. It’s great that he takes his time out for my people in the Tribe.”

Jonathan Robbins, a prospective senior basketball player for the Ahfachkee Warriors, said he felt great to have a person of Mashburn’s caliber to help him and his fellow Tribal youngsters improve on their basketball craft.

“I liked the dribble sideline-to-sideline drill we did,” the 18-year-old Big Cypress Tribal youngster said. “That was my favorite one. You had to dribble waist up and with your knees. It’s a drill that focused on ball control and fundamentals.”

Robbins, a high school senior at the Ahfachkee School, talked briefly about the opportunity to play for the Warriors Tribal basketball team.

“It’s really motivational for those that don’t participate in athletics,” Robbins said. “With this camp I participated in, it’s going to help me stay in shape for the season and keep me healthy in the long run.”

Mashburn, who briefly spoke to the Tribal youth participants before handing out medals and certificates to them at the clinic’s conclusion, offered his assessment on how the camp transpired.

“There are a lot of things you can learn in life through sports, such as discipline, sacrifice and time management,” the former NBA All-Star/clinic organizer said. “Basketball allows kids to develop skills that can help them beyond the game. Kids are innocent and they genuinely want to seek knowledge. I enjoy being out here to share my life experiences and help them get better in basketball.”

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