The Richland County Sheriff’s Department teamed up Wednesday with players from the University of South Carolina men’s basketball team for the “Stars of Tomorrow” camp.
The camp was held at Annie Burnside Elementary School off Garners Ferry Road and is one of six camps that the Sheriff’s Department holds each year that focuses on all grades from elementary school to high school.
Lott said having USC student athletes visit the campers and talk about success, on and off the basketball court, is a tremendous opportunity.
“We try to keep our kids active through the whole summer,” Sheriff Leon Lott said. “We know that is the time that we can lose our kids to gangs, and to have the basketball team and (USC coach) Frank Martin’s initiative to get the team out here is just great. These kids probably have never even met a basketball player. It has worked out great.”
The one-day event allowed students to run drills with the basketball players, ask questions and get signed posters and rally towels from Michael Carrera, Sindarius Thornwell and Laimonas Chatkevicius.
Originally from Lithuania, Chatkevicius said he had the mindset of hoping that coming out to see the kids and run drills with them would make some of them want to play basketball.
“Some of the kids haven’t really heard of us and haven’t seen games, so it is good for us to come see them, because they never get to come see us play,” Chatkevicius said.
Chatkevicius, a 6-foot-11-inch-tall sophomore forward, towered above the campers as they tried to shoot over him. Others, meanwhile, joined Carrera for a set of push-ups. Another group learned proper dribbling techniques from Thornwell in another part of the school’s gymnasium.
Eleven-year-old Damari Hull said one of his favorite parts about the camp was being able to see the players and trying to shoot over them.
“I don’t watch basketball, but this was fun,” Hull said.