By Vincent R. Crawford
Phoenix North High School was the appropriate site for the inaugural Alan Williams Basketball Camp considering this is where the Phoenix Suns forward/center played his prep career and helped lead the Mustangs to back-to-back state championships, in 2009 and 2010.
“Giving back to the community is always something that has been a part of our family and giving back is something that I have been tied to or connected with my whole life so having the opportunity to put on a camp for the kids in the area is extremely big and important to me,” said Williams, who frequently interacted with campers and their parents. “Having it here at North High School, going back to my roots – I played here in high school – I just tried to give back with a camp like this.”
The two-day coed camp was for kids aged 8-17 and included instruction from Williams and C.H.A.M.P.S. Basketball Academy. All of the attendees received training in a myriad of skill sets; participated in 5-on-5 games and contests; and were given a camp T-shirt and Suns gear plus had opportunities to meet Williams.
“As most people know, we really believe in giving back to the community,” said Williams’ mother, Jeri. “So, when Alan decided to do a camp there was no better place to do it than here at North High School, so, (North) Coach (Joseph) Bustos and the Phoenix Union (High School District) staff opened up the doors to us and look around the room, its almost 100 kids in here of all ages. I love the fact that its boys and girls in here. That’s super important.”
Her youngest son, Cody Jr., who also played at North, added, “There’s nothing more important than family and I’m glad to be here from California, on school break, to be with my mom and dad, friends and family to put on this camp. My role is to help these kids learn as much as they can, go out of here with a good time, and have a good day so that they can have a better time tomorrow.”
The theme of the camp was build; train; compete; and improve.
“Whether you are eight years old or seventeen years old, you can always get better,” said Alan’s father, Cody Sr. “Once you get confident being able to make the shot, make the passes, get up and down, and make decisions then you become a better basketball player. Those are good fundamental issues that you then start to practice and add on and continue to grow with and that’s really what we hope to accomplish is to really build their confidence and give them some good habits to continue to work on.
“This (North H.S.) is where Alan began his northward, if you can pardon the pun, northward ascension. He became someone people started to notice. He became a very popular player in the state of Arizona, but unfortunately Arizona basketball as a whole wasn’t as good as California or Texas. So, he redefined his position. He redefined the way the game should be played at this level, but at the same time he won two state championships. So, to bring it back here, there is no better place than where you started your ascension.”
Bustos was both Williams’ Boys varsity head basketball coach and he stated, “I met Alan when he was in the seventh grade playing in the freshman summer league and you could see that he was real active and strong against the bigger boys. When he came to North, he worked hard and improved yearly from his freshman year to his senior year. He did a tremendous job working really hard at the high school and college level and you could see success coming.
“He works hard and knows what to do. He has shown that pattern throughout his career. I’m very, very proud of him that he comes back to our community and contributes to our community and North High School. That’s part of Alan’s character. I’m so happy for him.”
On the first day, more than 100 campers were in attendance.
Photo caption: The Williams Family, from left to right, Cody Jr. Jeri, Alan, and Cody Sr., pose with a few of the kids before the start of the Alan Williams Basketball Camp. Photo by V. Crawford