After two years of photographing the opening dinner and some of the competition of the Lute Olson Fantasy Camp, I decided to put down my camera and pick up a basketball and join in. I will still take photos of all the events, all the former Wildcats and some of the games when I’m not playing, but I’ll be wearing a jersey for the first time since I played in city leagues some 30 years ago.
I can’t grab the rim anymore (I tried), I can’t pin a ball to the backboard or jump twice before someone else bends their knees once but I do have that “old man” game to fall back on. (Except I don’t foul if I get beat to the basket). But I might cough up a lung now and then.
Steve Rivera and Mike Feder have put together a program worthy of the ones found around the country but at a fraction of the cost. The “Coach K Camp,” for instance, is $12,500. The Lute Olson camp is $2,250. I’m not going to mortgage my home to learn how to slap a floor – No thank you – I’ll stick with guys like Pete Williams, Ben Davis, AJ Bramlett, Bennett Davison, Matt Muehlebach, Kenny Lofton, Jason Terry, Reggie Geary, Craig McMillan, Harvey Mason….
The Camp runs from August 22-25 with instruction and games held at the Sporting Chance Center. Registration is still available at luteolsonfantasycamp.
I’ll be completing a diary of sorts from an insider perspective with tons of free photos for all the players and campers. Of course, I get to stay in touch with Lute, having known him and his family since I was in college.
Steve Lavin was the guest coach last year and he has agreed to return this year. I spent more than few minutes talking to Coach Lavin last year and he’s a great, great guy. Lorenzo Romar was the guest coach in 2017 and he was also fantastic.
Each camper gets to speak for a few minutes on opening night and tell their personal story. My history goes all the way back to Bear Down Gym. I met Bob Elliott when I was in grade school when Fred Snowden took me and my brothers, Javier and Carlos, into the locker room.
We moved away to ACC territory where I played junior high and high school basketball in an area where gyms were packed for all three levels of high school ball and the classroom televisions were always on when the ACC Tournament was taking place. I came back to Tucson to attend Arizona and had to live through the Ben Lindsey era and then came Lute Olson.
I was an assistant coach of the University of Arizona wheelchair basketball team for 13 years and we went up against Lute’s teams every year in a special fundraiser. Anyway, this can go on forever so I’ll save more for future diary material….
Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014 and he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017 and he has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is the Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Andy was named an Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019.Contact Andy Morales at firstname.lastname@example.org