Aushanti Potts-Woods dribbled to his right, stepped back and made a jump shot from the right wing on the University Y in Tacoma’s main basketball court. It would have been easy to stand in awe of the 4A South Puget Sound League’s South Division MVP from Curtis High School.
The tougher thing was what Arvin Mosley, the former coach at The Evergreen State College who is a lead trainer with Chris Hyppa Basketball, did – pulling Potts-Woods aside to make some points.
Some offseason camps create all-star teams, name camp MVPs and have organizers doing more watching than teaching. But just because Hyppa, the former Stadium and Saint Martin’s University basketball player, brought together more than 40 of the top basketball players from the Puget Sound region in Tacoma on Saturday and Sunday for his camp, #Top253, didn’t mean it was only for showing off their skills.
Besides, there was more than enough for them to work on.
“These are the guys who need teaching the most,” Hyppa said. “Sometimes the kids who are the best in the area are the ones with the most ego. Those are the kids who think, ‘I’ve already been first-team all-league or first-team All-Area. Why am I here?’ They are good players, but they have flaws just like anybody else in this gym.”
Not many camps have someone uttering the words Mosley did before Sunday’s scrimmages:
“If I see guys laughing and giggling and stuff we will sub you out,” Mosley told them.
Hyppa created #Top253, which was free, but invite-only, as something to give Tacoma’s basketball history some tradition, where year after year top players from the area can get together and make each other better.
Roberto Gittens, an incoming junior at Foss, slapped the backboard during the team scrimmages as he blocked a shot. Wilson’s Montre Lofton-Brown received an alley-oop pass with one hand and dunked it and Lincoln’s Anthony Braggs Jr. had a fastbreak dunk.
Bobby Moorehead, who graduated from Stadium and is going to play at the University of Montana this year, was there, too. And his soon-to-be teammate at Montana, Ahmaad Rorie, showed up as well. Rorie starred at Clover Park and then Lincoln.
Peninsula’s JaQuori McLaughlin, a four-star recruit as ranked by Scout.com, was there but he didn’t participate.
Federal Way’s Davion Gaines won the ball-handling competition, performing all of the dribbling skills in 1 minute, 6 seconds. Wilson’s Jelani Peterson won the 2-minute drill, a shooting competition which players had to make two shots in a row from five spots around the court twice. It took him 1 minute, 47 seconds.
Hyppa hopes the camp is something the players eventually take over and continue as a Tacoma basketball tradition for decades to come.
“Most camps you go to are all about rankings, trying to rank the top five kids, top 10 kids. There’s an all-star team at each camp,” Hyppa said. “This camp had nothing to do with all-stars, it had nothing to do with who was the best guy here. The main thing I talked to these kids about when we started was development. I want these kids to grow and if they could do that in this camp, that is what we were trying to achieve.”