Between a basketball title and a baseball state runner-up finish, it’s been a euphoric three-month stretch for the community of Man.
Head basketball coach T.J. Blevins is riding the momentum.
On the heels of winning the first title in program history, Blevins and his team decided it was the perfect time to put together the Hustlin’ Hillbillies basketball camp. Though there’s also a surprise – WVU guard Sean McNeil will be making an appearance as a guest speaker.
“Social media man,” Blevins said. “It can be the devil or it can be a heaven sent thing. We pretty much just reached out to him now with this new NIL thing that the college athletes have and we worked around some things and both ends were happy. I actually spoke with him (Monday) morning. I told him ‘I don’t think you understand the impact you’re going to have on this small town and the kids in the community.’ We don’t have guys like him come around pretty often and he seems pretty excited about it.”
The occasion called for the special appearance, given that it might be the first basketball camp the program has ever put on.
“I’m thinking I may have went to one when I was younger here,” Blevins said. “I’m almost positive but as far as Hillbilly camp goes, this might be one of the first. After we made a run like we did this past season, there’s still a good buzz around town and around the county. We wanted to try and get something to give back to the kids a little bit and we’re hoping for a good turnout. If we just get one kid that’s more than we’ve ever had before.”
The camp itself will begin Wednesday, July 28 and finish on July 30. Kids from ages 5 to 14 are allowed to participate with the fee being $40 per camper. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day.
As Blevins noted, it’s a great way to give back to a community that’s been spoiled since May, but the idea has been in the works for awhile. He’s coached the group of kids he has now for years and they’ve always tossed around the idea of having one, it just never came to fruition until now.
“The kids have always talked in the locker room that it’d be nice to have something,” Blevins said. “They’ve talked about it and throughout the season it kept going through my head. And I said if we got the opportunity after this season I’d try and see if we could start something up and see if it will last. I got the kids together last week, got them all in the gym and told them that since they’ve asked for it, they’ve got it. They were excited and then when I told them we’d get Sean McNeil they were just as giddy as can be, so it’s nice to see them excited about it.”
In addition to McNeil, Blevins has a few other surprises lined up for the camp. Campers will receive a t-shirt on Friday, learn the fundamentals of the game and get to hear from some Man alumni who have played on the biggest stage.
“I’m going to have some old alumni come in and speak to them – a couple from the last state runner-up team in 1990,” Blevins said. “It’s going to be fun. There’s going to be rough edges to work out, but we look forward to it being a real good camp for the kids. We’ll start with the basic fundamentals and go from there. I always shoot it straight. I’ve had kids that come over that can’t pull off a left-handed layup. I’m going to touch base on that stuff, pivots, passes, jump shooting, just everything I go over in the first couple weeks of practice.”
Campers planning to participate will need to be at the Man Fieldhouse before 10 a.m. on Wednesday.