NBA star’s camp a slam dunk

Published 8:48 am Saturday, June 23, 2007

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
His eyes grew wide as he spotted a clear opening to the basket. Damien Wilkins dribbled the ball up the court, bounced it high off the floor, soared toward the ceiling, caught the ball and slammed it through the basket with authority.
That drew a chorus of “oohs” and “aahs” from the stands at Washington High School on Friday, the final day of the first “Damien Wilkins Basketball Camp.”
Wilkins, who buried a handful of 3-pointers while showing off some nifty and unselfish passing skills, led his all-star team to a 62-59 win over a group of high school all-stars from his camp. It went down to the wire, but Wilkins was able to walk off the court a winner, something he didn’t get to do last year.
Washington High School’s Cor-J Cox, who showed off some mad skills of his own, earned the MVP award in a losing cause.
Cox had the tall task of guarding Wilkins at times. He also took the ball strong to the basket with Wilkins nearby.
Besides some great memories and an MVP award, Cox said he took away plenty from the camp, which was sponsored by Adidas.
Much like what his slam dunk generated, Wilkins had some “oohs” and “aahs” of his own after witnessing the progression of the campers throughout the week.
One camper who really caught Wilkins’ eye was Keane Graham, a rising eighth-grader at P.S. Jones. Graham earned the MVP award in the all-star game that preceded Wilkins’ game, leading his team to a 16-14 victory.
Graham was thrilled that he had the chance to learn from Wilkins, an NBA star with the Seattle SuperSonics.
Wilkins told the campers that he wanted to teach them more than just basketball. He emphasized character and the chance to give back to the community.
Wilkins plans on returning home as often as he can.
Wilkins will cap off his all-star week with his third annual “Fun Day,” which will be held from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the field across from the Boys &Girls Club.
Wilkins third annual ‘Fun Day’ set for today
The assists continue to pile up off the court for Damien Wilkins.
Now that his first basketball camp, sponsored by Adidas, is finished, Wilkins will continue to give with his third annual “Fun Day” today. The event will be held from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the field across from the Boys &Girls Club.
The Washington native and NBA star with the Seattle SuperSonics will have a little something for everyone today.
Along with food and beverages, there will be plenty of prizes awarded.
Meanwhile, Vitamin Water will be donating 500 bottles of water, EA Sports is donating PlayStation games, Apple is offering 100 iTune gift cards and Interscope Records is giving away recordings by Tupac and Pharrell Williams.
Wilkins will be giving away three generous gift cards to WalMart.
Along with the usual rides and games for the kids, Wilkins is looking to add something for the adults, including Bingo and a sack race.
Wilkins, a third-year pro who played in all 82 games, averaged 8.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.1 steals per game, which were all career-highs.
The 6-6, 225-pound guard-forward started a career-best 31 games, including the final 16 contests of the season. He hit 262 of 602 shots (43.5 percent), 50 of 122 (41 percent) from 3-point range and 150 of 170 (88.2 percent) from the free throw line.
Wilkins finished the season with 724 points, 229 rebounds, 156 assists, 92 steals and 16 blocks.
In 33 games, including seven of the final 10 contests, Wilkins scored in double digits.
His high for the season, which matched a career-high, was a 26-point outburst Dec. 28 in a 112-98 loss to the Denver Nuggets. Wilkins also scored 26 points in a 99-91 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 10, 2006.
He also had a season-high five steals in the game against the Nuggets. His career-best is seven steals, which he accomplished in a 113-81 victory over the Utah Jazz on March 5, 2006.
Wilkins came close to setting a new career high in scoring on April 6, pouring in 25 points in a 112-109 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
His highest rebounding total of the season came Dec. 10 in a 117-115 victory over the Golden State Warriors. Wilkins grabbed nine rebounds to go with 22 points.
He had eight rebounds on four occasions. Wilkins set his career-high in rebounds with 10 caroms twice during the 2005-06 season.
Wilkins dished out a season-best seven assists on Dec. 13 in a 99-84 setback to the Chicago Bulls. He had six assists two times.
His career-best is eight assists, which came 112-105 win over the Nuggets on Dec. 29, 2005.
In Wednesday’s season finale against the Mavericks, Wilkins scored 10 points, hitting 3 of 8 from the floor and 4 of 7 at the charity stripe. He added four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Points: 26 vs. Denver Nuggets on Dec. 28, 2006; 26 vs. Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 10, 2006
Rebounds: 10 vs. Denver Nuggets on Feb. 12, 2006; 10 vs. Los Angeles Clippers on Jan. 14, 2006
Assists: 8 vs. Denver Nuggets on Dec. 29, 2005
Steals: 7 vs. Utah Jazz on March 5, 2006
Points: 26 vs. Denver Nuggets on Dec. 28, 2006
Rebounds: 9 vs. Golden State Warriors on Dec. 10, 2006
Assists: 7 vs. Chicago Bulls on Dec. 13, 2006
Steals: 5 vs. Denver Nuggets on Dec. 28, 2006