Tobias Harris may be moving on to the National Basketball Association, but he isn’t leaving Half Hollow Hills behind.
In between training for his first season with the , the legend is taking the time to coach and mentor the young players of the .
Harris has stopped by the Hills West gym several times over the past week to run drills, practice with the kids and teach them the basketball life lessons that helped him get to the top.
“He did a great talk about what’s important; family and how hard they have to work to achieve their dreams,” Coach Bill Mitaritonna said of his former player. “The kids love him.”
The pro-baller participated in the camp when he was in middle school, where he poured his passion of the game onto the court.
“He told me that he wanted to give back for what the program gave to him,” Mitaritonna said. “He said that he still remembers the stories from his days in the camp, and it just makes you so proud to know that you had that kind of impact on someone’s life.”
When Harris participated in the clinic, he was one of only 15 campers, the coach said. Now the program is nearly at capacity with about 75 kids, ages 5 to 17 coming to improve their game. The cheeky smiles that come across their face when they score a basket or the way they look up to mentors like Harris, make it easy to see why the camp has grown so quickly.
“What’s the backboard?” Mitarritonna asks during a practice drill. “Your friend,” the campers answer back in resounding unison.
Several other Colts alumni have come back as counselors for the program including , who last month and earned nearly a full athletic and academic scholarship to Dickenson College. With encouraging NBA and college players coaching the teams, the kids are having a great time.
One of the greatest perks of having Harris visit though, is the chance to play with the pro.
Harris has been teaching the young players NBA drills and even went one-on-one with a few of them. student Hunter Goldberg earned serious bragging rights when he scored on the Bucks player during such a game.
“Everyone was watching. I went in, drove on him and scored. That was really fun,” the eighth grader said.
Playing with the Buck has helped motivate the young athletes to be the best they can be on and off the court.
“He told us his dad was someone he wanted to impress and don’t give up on your dream,” Goldberg said. “He showed us how to make our shot better. He was also a really nice guy.”
The NBA is currently in a lock out until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached with the players association. In the meantime though, Harris continues to train and prepare for his first professional season while giving back to his community.