TEMPE (3TV/CBS 5) -- It’s the dawning of the high school basketball season in Arizona and nearly 15 of the state’s best players are gathered under one roof.
“It’s the 'Invite Own,' said organizer Antwi Atuahene. “It’s a play on words because it really means invite only.”
Atuahene isn’t being elitist. He’s being selective and proactive in the education of the state’s young basketball stars. Atuahene who played at ASU from 2005 until 2008, created the one-day “Invite Own” basketball camp to develop and educate a handful of players who’ve already been thrust into the business of basketball.
“We’re trying to give these guys as much information as possible as they transition from high school to college and then on to the pros,” said Atuahene. “I have known so many young players who turn into professionals and they never quite understand a lot of nuances of this life outside the court. They understand everything on the court but off it is where they lack information.”
Atuahene’s "Invite Own" curriculum includes basketball training of course but players are also educated on nutrition, training and even what courses to take in college. Public speaking and finance classes are encouraged for a group of young men who all have NBA aspirations.
“I see a lot of the evilness [in this sport],” said Atuahene. “I see people tugging them and pulling them from both ends. I feel like if we can give them as much information as possible, we can equip them with the tools that they need to navigate through life – not just basketball.”
Among the participants in this week’s “Invite Own” – Pinnacle senior guard Nico Mannion and Shadow Mountain senior Jaelen House.
Mannion, one the best prep basketball players in the country, has committed to play his college basketball at the University of Arizona.
House will follow in his father Eddie’s footsteps and play at Arizona State.
“It’s just fun to come out here with the guys and get better,” said Mannion. “The coaches here are all experienced and for them to give back to their community is awesome. To see people taking time out of their days to come out so we can become better people and players is great.”
“I like competing,” said House, who cited the day’s physical training seminars as the most beneficial. “To listen to the trainers and what they’re telling us, it will really be useful to us on game days.”
Also on Atuahene’s radar this day is navigating what’s become a major influence in the lives of today’s young athletes – social media, and the perils that come along with it.
“That’s the biggest adjustment [we’re trying to implement as coaches],” said Atuahene. “[These kids] thinking social media is real life. These guys have big social media followings. They have their highlight tapes on social media – highlight tapes that don’t translate to actual basketball games. Their confidence is at times based on how many social media followers they have. We try and break that down for them and let them know that the real world isn’t really like the social media world.”