THURSDAY, AUGUST 22
I made it to Westward Look before the monsoon rolled in and I got to touch base with several of the campers who are also making the trip for the third time. Some came last year and there are several new campers. I hope the new campers realized what’s in store for them.
There will be instruction and competition for sure, but there will also be the kind of fun that can only come from hanging out with friends – old and new. I think the new campers got a taste of that kind of friendship during the “Meet and Greet” Thursday night.
Our old friend Dave Silver served as the master of ceremonies and he, along with Mike Feder and Steve Rivera, introduced former Arizona players Matt Muehlebach, A. J. Bramlett, Pete Williams, Reggie Geary, Joe Turner, Ben Davis, Bennett Davidson, Donell Harris, Salim Stoudamire and Matt Brase.
Current assistant coach Jack Murphy also spoke along with the Women’s Assistant Director of Operations, Briana Felix.
The players all spoke about Coach “O” and what he meant to them as individuals and as a collective group. They talked about being close friends with each other even though their time on the court was separated by a generation or two. They correctly speculated that this kind of bond they have with each other cannot be duplicated. You will not find this kind of bond at any other program in the country. Most of the players pointed to the Lute Olson Fantasy Basketball Camp as the driving force that has kept that bond together and it is growing.
Each camper also had a chance to speak. Most spoke of how they came to fall in love with Arizona basketball and of the friendships they have built with the former Wildcats at the camp. I spoke of my love for the program beginning in the “Bear Down Gym” era under Bruce Larson. I’m old.
That love was solidified when, as young kids, Fred Snowden invited me my brothers Carlos and Javier into the McKale locker room after a game and he always made time for us after that day. We got to meet players like Bob Elliott, Coniel Norman and Eric Money. Javier would eventually go on to cover Arizona for the Star during the championship season of 1997 and I was an assistant coach of the University of Arizona Wildchairs (Wheelchair basketball team) for 13 years before moving on to coach club sports.
My youngest daughter, Maggie, was on hand and she took some awesome photos of the event.
A few campers told me that the “Meet and Greet” with the former players was worth the trip – the rest of the weekend is an added bonus.
We have scrimmages scheduled for Friday morning and the coaches will draft the campers into separate teams. The UA players/coaches really get into it and they want to win. It will be a rewarding afternoon.
As usual, the photos are free so enjoy them.
See you tomorrow.
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