Former Sun Steven Hunter wraps up another summer basketball academy

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Former Suns player Steven Hunter speaks to kids at about basketball and life. (3 July 2017) [Source: 3TV/CBS 5] Former Suns player Steven Hunter speaks to kids at about basketball and life. (3 July 2017) [Source: 3TV/CBS 5]

Former Sun Steven Hunter has been retired from the NBA since 2010 but he still has hand in the game. In addition to his role as a Suns ambassador, Hunter continues to run his annual Steven Hunter Life Skills and Basketball Academy. The latest edition just wrapped up at Fountain Hills Junior High.

“The mission statement is to get these kids in here and learning,” said Hunter. “We need to keep them active during the summertime.”

The camp centers around basketball but offers a variety of life coaching. Guest speakers every day deliver some advice and encouragement.

“These kids just need confidence,” said Hunter. “They need to believe in themselves. It’s interesting the transformation that takes place during their two weeks here. Kids will come in shy and unsure of themselves but by week two, they’re completely different.”

In 2017 Hunter opened his doors to kids all over the Valley. Campers were bused in every morning. Maryvale police Officer Carl Wunsch made sure 12 campers from Maryvale made it to Fountain Hills for camp every morning.

The players were on scholarship thanks to Hunter and the David Glasser Foundation – a new foundation named for fallen police officer David Glasser, whose love for all Arizona sports has been well documented.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for them. It’s something they don’t normally get a chance to do,” said Wunsch. “To see some celebrities, to see an ex-NBA player and get some instructions from him is something these kids really appreciate. I think they’re learning a lot. They’re not just getting with their basketball skills – which they are – you can see it on a daily basis but they’re learning lessons for life.”

The mixing of players from different cities and different backgrounds has been beneficial on and off the court.

“It’s been very interesting,” said Dylan Ring, a 9-year-old camper from Scottsdale. “You get to meet all these different kids from all these different cities and they come all the way from Fountain Hills just to play some basketball.”

“We have kids in here from Maryvale, Avondale and west Phoenix,” said Hunter. “I really wanted to cater to those kids who really needed this program. I want them to improve their standing in school and out of school.”

Hunter’s main goal of the camp to make kids better basketball players, but the benefits of this melting pot extends far beyond the court.

“They’ve met new friends and exchanged Snapchats and Instagrams with them,” said Hunter. “They’ve established a whole new friendship base so that in and of itself is mission accomplished.”

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