Soldotna High School boys basketball coach Ron Becker has been zealous in his preaching on the fundamentals of basketball.
So when Becker wanted to organize the Kenai Peninsula Basketball Camp, it only made sense to bring in someone with the same philosophy -- enter Barry Hecker and his 30 years of experience teaching the fundamentals of basketball at every level of the game.
Hecker's resume includes a stint as the player personnel director for the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers and 12 years as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Clippers, where he worked with Bill Fitch and Larry Brown. Hecker coached at George Washington and George Mason, but has been involved in the professional game for the past 16 years.
So, is designing a training camp for the elite professional any different than running a clinic for high school players?
"Not really," Hecker said. "It's all the same drills whether it's high school kids or pros. It's still just fundamentals. Obviously, the NBA players pick it up quicker, but it's still the same game."
Becker said the camp, which begins Monday and runs through Wednesday at Soldotna High School, will focus on those fundamentals. Sessions start at 10 a.m. and last until 2 p.m., with a lunch provided. The first two hours of each day will be devoted to fundamentals while the last hour and a half will be dedicated to team-oriented offense and defense.
The camp is geared toward high school players. Becker said there is still some room for players. Interested players can register at 9:30 a.m. Monday at the door. The fee for the camp is $75. Contact Becker at 262-8749 for more information.
Hecker said he guarantees a positive experience.
"I've done camps all over the U.S., and for the most part, it's the same thing," Hecker said. "There's two baskets and a ball. With an NBA guy, you're talking about bigger people and more money, but what I teach to NBA players is going to be the same things I teach these kids."
Hecker said everything starts with good footwork, a sentiment Becker agreed with. In fact, their discussion of fundamentals at a basketball camp at the University of New Mexico led to Hecker's trip to Alaska. Becker talked Hecker into coming to Soldotna to work with a few of his players last summer -- the fact that world-class fishing on the Kenai River was involved apparently sealed the deal.
"I really stress the fundamentals. Ron and I didn't know each other until that camp, but our philosophies are the same," Hecker said. "It's the only way you can learn and get better. We like to make it fun for them, too, but I like to work them."
Hecker said he learned a lot from working a camp with Adrian Dantley, the NBA's leading scorer in 1980-81 and 1983-84 when he played for the Utah Jazz.
"I learned a lot from Dantley, and Ron was teaching the same thing, a six-inch step," Hecker said, adding that he likes to spend a lot of time on footwork.
"Most kids want to just pick up the ball and start shooting, but they don't get their body in the right position."
Hecker said he's stayed with teaching the fundamentals for so long because of the satisfaction he gets from a job well done, whether it be working with college player preparing for the Desert Classic or a high school player from the Kenai Peninsula.
"I love going to the gym and I love working with anybody," Hecker said. "Seeing them get better makes you feel good, so we just kinda got together and started a basketball camp.
"And it's a good excuse to go fishing."
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