Sixty kids sat upon the hardwood court in rapt attention as Donald Watts towered before them and began to talk. The former basketball star of the Washington Huskies was visiting Woodinville High School on June 26th to impart wisdom and lead drills for a couple hours. It was a special opportunity for the kids who were attending the week-long Woodinville Basketball Camp.
Seated to the side and watching the demonstration was Woodinville High’s head basketball coach Mark Folsom. With a smile on his face, Folsom described how the camp is part of the Woodinville Select Program.
“We’re trying to give the kids an idea of things we’re teaching at the high school level,” he said. “To give them some tools to work on and practice in the off season. And to let our (assistant coaches) coach some of the younger kids and build some familiarity.”
The Woodinville Select Program is open to players ranging from grades 4-8, and tryouts for this year’s teams are coming up in September. Those that qualify will represent Woodinville in the Eastside Traveling League, in which 18 area teams play competitively in leagues.
“We want to get as many kids from this Woodinville community to learn about our select program, participate in our select program, and ultimately utilize it as a feeder program into our high school program,” Folsom said.
“Our program is growing,” he added. “In past years, our program has struggled to get enough kids to participate. But this year, the enrollment doubled the numbers from last year.”
Meanwhile, out on the court, Donald Watts regaled the kids with stories of his days playing pro ball. Then he engaged the youngsters in drills geared to improve their ball handling and balancing skills.
When the session concluded, Watts spoke with this reporter courtside. His company, WattsBasketball, is a joint venture with his dad, former SuperSonic Slick Watts.
“It’s all player development in the form of camps, small group training and semi-private and private training,” Watts said. “I grew up privileged as it relates to basketball. I got to spend time with some of the best ballplayers to ever play the game. Greatest shooters, greatest ball handlers, greatest minds. So this is my opportunity to give back to kids. To make sure the way they’re doing it is healthy, that they’re enjoying themselves, and that they adopt a philosophy of ‘What can I do to get better today?’ Hopefully they do it in a way that translates to the classroom, social life and their family life. I’m kind of like a preacher without pouring it on like that. Using basketball as a vehicle to show the right way to do things and the right way to be, including being a great teammate.”
For more information on Watts Basketball, go to WattsBasketball.com.