‘Last day to get better’ for global campers during All-Star Weekend

By: Zoe Collins Rath

Camp of any kind feels like a summer activity. But during our brisk Chicago February, as part of the 69th annual 2020 All-Star Game in Chicago, a Basketball Without Borders Global Camp showcased the talent of the next generation of basketball players.

“What these young athletes are doing is beyond impressive,” said Chris Ebersole who coordinates the Basketball Without Borders camps throughout the world. The camps are in various locations around the world and in recent years have brought the came to the All-Star Weekend.

Campers from more than 34 countries came to Chicago Thursday for three full days to learn basketball from professional coaches and former players. Sixty-four athletes from the different countries had to overcome language barriers, playing styles and cultural differences but had fun playing in front of NBA Scouts throughout the weekend. Basketball Without Borders selected the high school-aged players and sponsored their trips to Chicago.

“The best thing about it was getting to know the players and playing more basketball,” said Esteban Roacho, a young player from Mexico who attended the camp.

All of these teens want to play in college with hopes of playing professionally after that. Roacho’s dream school to play would be Arizona State University.

While Roacho has a clear vision of where he hopes to play basketball in college, some athletes are not sure of where they want to go.  Recruiting takes time and athletes want to play for the best college teams but a lot of them want to do one thing

“We want to go to college and play in the States,” said Mama Dembele Traore, a player from Spain.

Basketball Without Borders started in 2001 and the Basketball Without Borders Global Camps during All-Star Weekend kicked off in 2015. Ebersole calls it a staple of all of the All-Star events because of how much the camp has grown in the past few years. He said he hopes it will continue to grow.

The BWBG Camp was held in a gym on the West Side of the city and the calm of the gym was waiting for the players to arrive. (Photo credit: Zoe Collins Rath)

“Last day to get better” begins with a group huddle to break down the events of the day. (Photo credit: Zoe Collins Rath)

After stretching there, the camp roared into a three-point contest to identify the best shooter and the most important thing is the follow-through. (Photo credit: Zoe Collins Rath)

Basketball is played one-on-one and in order to keep possession, players practice throwing the ball around the perimeter against a defense. (Photo credit: Zoe Collins Rath)

Young players are still inspired and impacted by Kobe Bryant, even after his recent death and one player wore shoes stitched with the date Bryant was drafted, June 26, 1996. (Photo credit: Zoe Collins Rath)

With all their might, players drive down the middle of the lane to get to the basket and give the layup all they’ve got. (Photo credit: Zoe Collins Rath)

When a shot goes up people can either watch what happens or they never give up on defense to block the shot. (Photo credit: Zoe Collins Rath)

With free throws as free shots, it is a battle to either get a rebound or get a second chance shot. (Photo credit: Zoe Collins Rath)

When a guard sees an open opportunity to drive to the basket, they will take it all the way. (Photo credit: Zoe Collins Rath)

To shake a defender in a scrimmage or in a game, going behind the back is always an option and it works if the ball handler gets low to the ground. (Photo credit: Zoe Collins Rath)

A defender tries to get in the shooter’s face to block the shot but is too late as she releases the ball. (Photo credit: Zoe Collins Rath)

The guard communicates what he wants his teammate to do. When players see the move they want, they point and pass. (Photo credit: Zoe Collins Rath)

Photo at top: Campers from more than 34 countries came to Chicago Thursday for three full days to learn basketball from professional coaches and former players. (Photo credit: Zoe Collins Rath)