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NBA player Patterson teaches kids during camp at HHS

August 10, 2016 GMT

HUNTINGTON - If the scoreboard recorded smiles instead of points, another digit would have been necessary.

More than 150 boys and girls ages 7 to 16 learned basketball skills and enjoyed themselves to the point of giddiness Tuesday at the Patrick Patterson Basketball Camp at Huntington High School.

Patterson, 27, just completed his seventh season in the NBA. The 6-foot-9, 230-pound forward starred at Huntington High before playing three seasons at the University of Kentucky. The Houston Rockets selected Patterson with the 14th pick in the first round of the 2010 draft. Houston traded him to Sacramento in 2013 and later that year the Kings dealt him to the Toronto Raptors, his current team.

Patterson prompted smiles that sometimes appeared as wide as the foul lane as youngsters enjoyed drills while music blared, interrupted only by the tweets of instructors’ whistles and the laughing, screaming, clapping enthusiasm of the kids.

“It’s amazing how people came here to help us learn basketball,” said Avonte Crawford, 9 and a third-grader at Southside Elementary.

Crawford said he couldn’t believe an NBA player and friends put on the camp free of charge and took the time out their busy schedules to help him improve his basketball skills.Crawford’s words touched Patterson.

“It warms my heart,” Patterson said. “Kids on social media have been messaging me and thanking me, telling me they can’t wait to come back the next day. It makes me feel very humble. They’re so thankful for a simple basketball camp. In their eyes, this is such a bigger story. That means so much.”

Patterson grinned as he watched a group celebrate a victory in a layup competition as if though they’d won the NBA Finals. High fives abounded, as did hugs, whoops, hollers and ever-present smiles. Maybe the only person in the Lucas-Archer Gym who wasn’t happy was Isabella Blackburn, 7 and a second-grader at the Village of Barboursville Elementary, and that’s because she was too young to participate.

“I like it,” Blackburn said of watching her brother, Ethan, 10 and a fourth-grader at VOBE.

The camp was more than just a good time. Players learned basketball skills.

“Dribbling between my legs,” Jaxson Seals, 7, said of what he liked learning most.

Crawford said he learned the drop step and figures it will help him in AAU ball at the YMCA and during travel ball.

Maddie Kazee, 14 and a freshman at Cabell Midland High School, said she was sore after the first day of camp, but was eager for the second day because she learned so much.

“I learned more than I’ve ever known before,” Kazee said. “It’s way harder than any camp I’ve ever attended. It’s cool and awesome.”

Many of the players, even the younger kids, showed talent that impressed Patterson, the all-time leading scorer at Huntington High until Tavian Dunn-Martin, now a freshman at the University of Akron, broke his record last season.

“A lot of these kids are better than I was at their age,” Patterson said. “They start at such young ages now. “People are getting these kids younger and younger and they’re learning.”

Patterson said he felt the need to conduct the camp because when he was younger, not many such events existed.

“There weren’t a lot of people giving back, other than Troy (Brown), Mike (Bartrum), Randy (Moss) and Chad (Pennington) doing things such as this,” Patterson said, mentioning four former Marshall University football players who played in the NFL. “If you went to camp, it was at Marshall, WVU, Kentucky or some other college.

“I hope we’re not the last to do this.”

The camp concludes Wednesday with players age 7 through 11 from 9 a.m. to noon, followed by players age 12 through 16 from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.