BY EDWARD de la FUENTE
The Cincinnati Enquirer
GEORGETOWN -- Brian Grant, the former Xavier standout now with the Portland Trail Blazers, returned to his home town last week to host the first Brian Grant Basketball Camp at his alma mater, Georgetown High.
Brian Grant talks to kids at his camp at Georgetown High School.
(Gary Landers photo)
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Because of Grant's hometown hero status, news that he was hosting a camp drew requests from kids all around the area. "He's definitely the biggest name to come out of this school," Georgetown athletic director Donna Gardner said.
"I watched him play ball here and followed him from high school on up," said Georgetown resident Gary Seeholtz, whose 13-year-old son Ryan participated in the first of two three-day camp sessions and whose family lives down the street from Grant's family. "It's nice for him to be able to come back to the community where he grew up."
"Two of my kids are in the camp," said Tim Chadwell, who coached Grant and the rest of the Georgetown basketball team in 1990, Grant's senior year. "He's been very good to our community. I'm pleased that our kids can have the chance to participate in this."
"Hopefully, this is a big deal for these kids," Grant said. "Because it's certainly a big deal for me to be able to come back here and do this."
The camp, which concluded Saturday, consisted of two sessions: a three-day session for youths 14 and under, and a 13-and-older session. All proceeds from the camp will benefit the Georgetown High athletic department.
Of the 175 or so participants in the two sessions, Grant estimated that nearly all hail from Brown County or neighboring Clermont County -- where children normally wouldn't have access to sports camps held in larger cities such as Cincinnati, an hour's drive to the west.
"He wanted this to be for local kids who don't have the opportunity to go to a camp," Gardner said. "That's why he's been very generous to us."
"I love it here," said Grant, who now resides in Portland. "Everybody in this town knows everybody else, and that's what I like about it."
Grant said that he had always wanted to sponsor a camp, but it wasn't until he hosted a camp for a boys and girls club in Portland that he decided to bring one to Georgetown.
The problem was that he came up with the idea only in April, which didn't give him much time to plan. So he enlisted the help of his agent, Mark Bartelstein, and soon the ball was rolling.
Bartelstein called Peter Patton, a professional player in the International Basketball Association who helped run several different camps in the Chicago area, and asked if he would be interested in helping Bartelstein coordinate the camp. Given only two weeks' notice, Patton admitted that "it was a little more difficult getting it going, but everything's been great."
Meanwhile, Grant received the support of Gardner, who donated the use of the facility, found sponsors for the camp and took care of registration and paperwork. "I wouldn't have been able to do it without Donna," Grant said.
Finally, Grant called upon friends from basketball circles to help out. Former XU teammates Tyrice Walker and Larry Sykes, along with Chadwell, served as coaches, while NBA players Corie Blount, Rasheed Wallace and Tyrone Hill appeared as guest speakers.
"We tried to put it together in a month and a half's time," Grant said. "I didn't know if we'd be able to do it. But it was amazing how many people chipped in."
"My phone was ringing all the time," Gardner said of the weeks leading up to the camp. "I've been involved in these before, so I knew what it takes to put a camp together. But I put in twice as much effort for this one."
Grant said he had more time to plan the camp because of the current NBA lockout, but he plans to prepare for next year's camp well in advance. He already considers the first session a success. "We did the job we wanted to do," he said. "We're teaching basketball, and we're talking about good values.
"One thing I want these kids to know is that, even if you're from a small town, you can still make it big."
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