Williams helps NGA students learn basketball skills

NGA senior Austin Stewart holds up a ball to direct the players to perform a particular defensive motion during a drill at last Thursday’s camp session. 

PHOTO: Justin Hubbard

By Justin Hubbard



Last week’s hot and muggy weather did not stop a group of young Nathanael Greene Academy students from working out in the school’s almost equally warm gym.

Derrick Williams, the former head coach of NGA’s varsity girls and boys basketball teams, hosted a skills camp aimed at NGA’s youngest attendees. The camp brought in seven kids who are entering kindergarten, first through third grades and fifth grade. In total, seven kids attended the camp, which lasted Tuesday through Friday.

Most of those who participated in the camp were also part of the Little Patriots program Williams helped created during this past school year. Each Monday morning, the NGA varsity players taught their youngest peers how to play basketball.

“We kind of introduced basketball during the school year, so the biggest thing (during the camp) was going over the basics and fundamentals,” Williams said. “We did a lot of ball handling in that camp and, just in those four days, I could tell some of the kids improved a lot, especially with dribbling with their off hand. Primarily, every single one of them was right-handed but, by the end of the camp, I could tell they were all comfortable dribbling with their left hand.”

Regular readers of Lake Oconee News know Williams will not return to NGA next school year. He is headed to Rock Springs Christian Academy, where he will be the girls varsity basketball coach and hold other duties.

John Bear, NGA’s board chairman, had a conversation with Williams after Williams announced his departure. He agreed to let Williams run his camp as planned.

Williams primarily ran the camp himself but he had assistance. Jonathan Ellison, a coach at Gatewood, helped out one day. NGA rising seniors Will McCommons and Austin Stewart assisted throughout the week.

Neither McCommons nor Stewart helped out during Williams’ multiple camps last summer – he mostly got help from his then-rising seniors – but Williams said he thought they both brought good instruction.

“I think they did pretty well,” Williams said. “They didn't help out with the camps last summer – it was primarily the girls – but with doing the Little Patriots during the school year on Mondays, they got a lot of instruction working with kids. I think they did well. The kids responded to them very well."

Williams will hold another camp at the Putnam County Recreation Department June 18-21. It will be aimed at children in third through eighth grade and be held 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.

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