Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kemba Keeping Up Appearances

Here's a story filed by Dan Podheiser of the Middletown Press, our sister paper, on Kemba Walker's visit to Avon today for a one-day clinic for kids:

The hard-hitting questions were coming at Kemba Walker one after another.

“What size shoe do you wear?”

“What’s your second favorite sport?”

“Do you play XBox ... what’s your online name?”

For the 117 kids who showed up at Roaring Brook Elementary School on Wednesday, getting a chance to mingle with their UConn idol meant more than shaking his hand and getting an autographed photo. It was a chance to learn from the best.

Walker teamed with some of the top basketball instructors in the state to put on the All Pro Sports one-day basketball clinic for kids. From layup and boxing-out drills to a 30-minute lecture on “positive choices,” the clinic is designed to give kids an introduction on the basics of basketball — and a reason to get out of the house during the summer.

“Having a guy like Kemba here is an easy way to get the kids to our camp,” said Tim Leahy, who founded All Pro Sports five years ago. “But once [the kids] get here, they keep coming back because of the quality of our instructors, and because it’s fun.”

Leahy, who played college basketball at Eastern Connecticut State University, teams with co-director and former UConn basketball walk-on Steve Emt to put on basketball and soccer clinics across the state during the summer.

The duo takes pride in running clinics that not only help kids with their skills, but also provide valuable insight from positive role models like Walker.

“Given all the things kids have to do over the summer, I think it says something about our clinic that we can have a packed gym on a Wednesday afternoon,” said Emt, who is also the head basketball coach at RHAM in Hebron.

As for Walker, the recent first-round pick (ninth overall) of the Charlotte Bobcats is biding his time before he and the rest of the NBA finds out about the league’s future. The uncertain lockout situation leaves recent draftees like Walker without much direction this summer, but the reigning NCAA champ is staying busy.

“I got a place on Long Island so I’ll be living there for a while, just working out and trying to stay in shape” said Walker, who noted that he’s rooming with former Hofstra guard Charles Jenkins, another Bronx native. Jenkins was taken in the second round by the Golden State Warriors in last week’s draft.

Walker says he’s looking for a place in Charlotte and plans to move his family down there as well. Though he hasn’t officially made any money for playing basketball yet, he has started to cash in on his new professional status.

“My agency is keeping me pretty busy with appearances and stuff,” he said.
And though he might not have a chance to practice with his new teammates for a while, Walker won’t have to look too far to find a competitive game at his new residence.

“I mean, it’s New York. It’s not too hard to find guys who can play.”

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