Sept. 10, 2003
In addition to fishing in the wilds of Canada, Florida State men’s basketball player Adam Waleskowski spent a week working on his game at the 26th annual Big Man Camp hosted by the renowned basketball mind Pete Newell. He spent a week learning from some of the top teachers and playing against some the top big men in the country.
The camp began in 1976 as a simple one-on-one session with Los Angeles Lakers first round draft choice Kermit Washington, the last player to average 20 points and 20 rebounds in a season as a collegian. Soon after his training session with Washington, Newell began holding an annual instructional camp for forwards and centers from around the NBA. By 1991, more than 80 of the top big men in the country had attended the camp including Ralph Sampson, Brad Dougherty and Shaquille O’Neal.
In the first installment of “How I Spent My Summer Vacation’ by various members of the Florida State men’s basketball team, read how Waleskowski improved his game and spent time with his brother, Keith at the camp.
How Was The Camp Set Up? Were There Different Stations With Different Skills Being Taught? Did You Rotate From Counselor To Counselor?
“Because the camp was so large this year with 55 guys, it was split up into two sessions. One session went from 8-11 a.m. and the second session went from 1-4 p.m. There were six baskets setup on the court. The entire group of players was spread around five baskets with a sixth left open for any players who needed extra help on a given drill. Each of the groups were practicing the same drill on each basket so we didn’t rotate from basket to basket and stayed with one counselor during the entire session.
Who Were Some Of The Counselors You Were Fortunate To Be Able To Work With?
“Coach Pete Newell was the main counselor. Other counselors included Kiki Vanderweigh of the Denver Nuggets who did a lot of teaching throughout the course of the week.
Besides The On Court Instruction, What Other Basketball Related Instruction Did You Receive?
“We received instruction from the time we stepped onto the court to the time we finished each session. From stretching and conditioning to pre game warm-ups to cooling down after a game, we learned about taking care of our bodies from the start of a game to the finish of a game. I never realized how important stretching after a practice or a game was, but that is something I am going to pay more attention to from now on.”
What Were Some Of The Things You Learned That Will Make You A Better Player?
“There are a lot of one-on-one moves I learned that will be helpful as I go into the upcoming season. If I keep working on those moves and get them down, I feel I can become a better player. I felt that I was a good shooter going into the camp and I feel that I am a better shooter now that I have participated in the camp. I was taught more ways to create space in order to be able to take better shots. I also learned more about creating space in opening up more opportunities to drive to the basket. A great deal of the instruction I received was in the paint and facing up from both sides of the basket.”
Do You Feel You Are A Better Player Because Of Your Participation In The Camp?
“Participating in the camp hasn’t made me a better player but my ability to take the skills I learned at the camp can help me become a better player. The knowledge I took away from the camp will help me to become a better player. My goal is to develop my skills and use the knowledge I gained at the camp to become a better all-around player.”
Which Of Your Skills Did You Improve The Most During The Camp?
“The skills I improved on the most were driving to the basket with my off-hand and jumping off of my opposite foot. On the first day of camp I couldn’t get into the air from my opposite foot. By the end of camp I was using my right hand and jumping off my left foot like I had been doing it all of my life. Footwork was one of the things the counselors stressed the most during the camp. The counselors stresses footwork, moves and finishing every play with the correct foot and the correct hand.”
What Was It Like Practicing And Playing Against Your Brother At The Big Man Camp?
“It was great to be able to spend time with my brother Keith who plays for Dayton. Unfortunately, we didn’t practice or play against each other much during the camp. We were in separate station groups so he worked out with other players. I was able to watch him practice during the camp and it looked like he was getting some good work in.”
Who Were Some Of The Other Players Who Were Participated In The Camp? Other ACC Players?
“The only other player from the ACC at the camp was Michael Thompson of Duke. Most of the other players were from the West Coast. There were a couple of players from Cal, three guys from Oregon and Luke Whitehead from Louisville among others. There were also a couple of NBA players – Jahidi White, Tyson Chandler, Lonny Baxter and a couple of foreign players.”
Pete Newell Is One Of The Legends Of Basketball. How Much Interaction Did You Have With Him?
“Pete Newell was a very hands on counselor so I was able to interact with him more than I thought I would be able to when the camp began. He was at the entire camp and watched every station and every player intently. He was very involved and critiqued every player throughout the camp. If he felt a player’s footwork was off he stepped right into the drill to help that player out. He interacted with me personally and interacted with my group many times. He was constantly teaching – in the morning before we began and in the afternoon when we finished the day. He never stopped teaching and helped make the camp more beneficial for myself and the rest of the players.”