Tar Heel legend visits Warren County

May. 04, 2013 @ 09:21 PM

One day wasn’t long enough for a coach to fully impart his knowledge of basketball to eager students of the game, but it was plenty of time for Phil Ford to lay a foundation with a group of young athletes Saturday at Warren County Middle School.

The former North Carolina All-American held a basketball mini-camp in support of the Warren County Free Clinic.

“You can’t get a lot in in a one-day clinic,” said Ford. “But I do think you can plant some seeds. If they go home and remember one thing that you said, it may help them become a better basketball player and a better person.”

Nearly 30 middle school and high school students signed up for the event that began at 10 a.m. and wrapped up around 4 p.m.

Ford’s message: “Hustle hard, but also have fun at the same time,” said Warren County High School sophomore A.J. Alston, a member of the Eagles’ varsity boys basketball team.

Darauna Davis is an eighth-grader at Warren County Middle School, where she played on the Warriors’ basketball team. She said she was enticed to participate in the camp, in part, because of Ford’s professional experience.

Ford’s last coaching stop was with the Charlotte Bobcats on Larry Brown’s staff. The 1978 ACC Player of the Year and 1979 NBA Rookie of the Year served as an assistant coach at North Carolina from 1988-2000 and also won an NBA title in 2004 on Brown’s Detroit Pistons staff.

“He was awesome,” Davis said of Ford. “He had great techniques and he helped me out because if I didn’t dribble the ball right or shoot right, he taught me how to do it.”

The camp boasted a good mix of high school and middle school students. Ford said he’s less interested in the younger players’ skill and more concerned with how they interact with teammates and respond to coaching.

“I just enjoy being involved with basketball,” said Ford. “It’s been a part of my life for so many years. Anytime you can get out on the court and talk to people about making them better basketball players, it’s always a lot of fun.”

Ford said it was only the second hoops clinic he’s overseen in the last five years, but he was passionate about bringing awareness to the Warren County Free Clinic.

Ford admitted he didn’t know much about free clinics until he became involved with Warren County’s about six months ago. Now the Phil Ford Foundation, originally started with a focus on childhood obesity, is evolving.

“We want to get involved with as many of the clinics as we possibly can,” said Ford. “I feel it’s such a need for every community, not only in this county, but every county in our state and every state in the United States.”

Contact the writer at kholtzman@hendersondispatch.com.