Bishop Hendricken basketball coach and Athletic Director Jamal Gomes hosted the 29th annual Best Hoops Premier Basketball Camp at the school, alongside various other former coaches and players.
The three-week camp hosted roughly 350 local youth and high school players, and taught them the fundamentals of the sport, as well as the importance of respect and sportsmanship.
“It means a lot to me, for me, it’s all about tradition. I often think about the thousands of young boys and girls that have come through our camp and have learned the game of basketball. For many campers, this is where they first fall in love with the game,” said Gomes. “Hopefully they stick with it and develop as players. We’ve had kids go on to play at the high school level, college, and even some professional. It’s been another great summer.”
Gomes, who has coached the Hawks to 11 RI State Championships and won another with Hendricken as a player, has been impressed with the campers this summer.
“What I always tell the parents on championship Friday, is what makes this camp so special are the campers and the coaches. We have educators, former players, former coaches that work very hard with our student-athletes. The respect, the behavior, the work ethic and effort of our campers … it really has been special this summer. A proud feeling comes over me when I talk about this camp,” said Gomes.
Gomes also feels that the message sent to the players every summer is what sets the camp apart from others, including the emphasis put on the mental side of the game rather than the physical.
“Wisdom comes with age. You realize as time progresses and goes by … for me, it’s all about teaching the basics and fundamentals. You want to teach respect, teamwork and effort, and we get to do that in a basketball setting,” said Gomes. “It’s about building character, that’s what I think separates this camp from others. We’re teaching character and how to do things the right way.”
The camp welcomed a big name guest on Wednesday afternoon, as former Hendricken standout player and current NBA trainer Rob McClanaghan made the trip to work with the locals.
McClanaghan has worked with NBA stars like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Derrick Rose, John Wall, Al Horford, Chandler Parsons and Kevin Love, and has a book coming out titled “Net Work,” which chronicles his time in the NBA and relationships with his clients along the way.
McClanaghan was excited to have an opportunity to give back to the community in which he grew up.
“It’s really important. This is where I found my love for basketball, so it’s great to come back here and coach. My first clients were kids, then I started working out with the kids here like Joe Mazzulla, Jimmy Baron, Billy Baron, and we all became really close. It’s a big day for me,” said McClanaghan.
McClanaghan worked out with some of the kids and also addressed the campers, touching on some of the basics of the game and the importance of hard work.
“It’s the same philosophy … basketball is basketball. My philosophy is the same for the workouts, it’s about effort,” said McClanaghan. “The hardest workers I’ve had are the best players that I have ever seen. Derrick Rose and those guys, they’ve put in work with me for 12 years, it didn’t happen overnight. It’s a trust thing between players and coaches, players and trainers.”
He was also happy to work alongside Gomes once again.
“Jamal is the best coach in the state and he does a great job with this camp,” said McClanaghan. “I worked with Jamal for three years as a coach, played under him. He’s a very nice, unbelievable guy that has really helped me grow as a person.”