Monday, August 7, 2017

Will Avery's Middle School Developmental League Registration is Saturday and I highly recommend it

Following Sunday's hour long clinic with 6-10 year old beginners at the old Columbia Middle School, Will Avery asked the players what they learned. Hands shot up and the youngsters answered that they had practiced dribbling with both hands, pivoting with the ball, aiming for the top of the square when shooting layups, and keeping the ball low on a cross over dribble. Avery's "Bantam Baller" clinics, held at 1:00 P.M every Sunday in August, is only one of the ways the former Duke University and NBA star is teaching youngsters how to play basketball this time of the year.

Will Avery demonstrates the proper technique for shooting a layup.

In addition to special training sessions for players of all ages and skill levels, Avery is preparing for the second season of the CSRA Middle School Player Developmental League. According to a recent post on the league's Facebook group page, the league "is for those kids that need a little more work, or beginners in grades 6-8." Advanced 5th graders are also included. Avery aims to serve 80 boys and girls in the coed league in which the emphasis is learning to play the game from the ground up.

Will explained the process after Sunday's clinic: "We start in the practice sessions playing 2 on 0, teaching players things like give-and-go and pick-and-roll. Then we build up to 3 on 0 and add awareness about spacing and driving and kicking. And soon they are ready for 5 on 5 games."

Practice sessions will be held on certain weekdays during the month of August. And games, which will be played on Saturdays, will begin the week after Labor Day. Practices and games are all played at the old Columbia Middle School on Columbia Road. According to Avery, the league "will only cost you your time."

Avery and his extremely capable staff are looking forward to the second season of D-League play after a fulfilling first go around last year. Features from last season that will return include an all star game and a championship tournament. And Avery is planning to make it mandatory that all teams play man-to-man defense so players can develop the feel for help defense, spacing and cutting on offense, and other key fundamental principles before adding more complex aspects of the game.

But most of the anticipation about this season hasn't had as much to do with the X's and O's. Roy Peake, Will's indispensable partner in all things coaching basketball, put it this way in a recent comment about the league:

"I've been coaching a long time and I can't think of a time when basketball was more fun or rewarding than last season in this league. It wasn't always the basketball portion. It's a true reward to watch these kids grow as people and basketball players."

Peake spent many years as an assistant coach at Evans High School. He and Remwick Lee, coach of last season's Richmond County middle school champion Langford and another of Will's invaluable D-League coaching partners, currently head coach a trio Georgia Sting AAU teams along with Avery during the spring and summer.

Speaking of coaches, more are needed. I will join Will, Roy, and Remwick in helping to conduct the voluntary practice sessions during the week and the games on Saturdays. Become a member of the league's Facebook group and send Will a message if you would like to lend your assistance to this worthy endeavor.

Like coach Peake explained, it is very rewarding to help players learn how to play the game and become more capable and confident people. There is no place where they will learn as much as they will from Avery and his staff. And like Will said, the only cost is your time.

***Learn more about Will Avery's basketball camps, training sessions, leagues, clinics, and other activities at his website:***

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