"It's All About The Game"

DC Premier starts with training camp






Ron Bailey, Publisher

Out-of-area confab meets goals


March 27, 2014 - The sleepy town of Ashland, VA was host to a birth this past weekend, a transition in which a nes travel team organization has sprung forward. Enter the actualization of DC Premier.

Announced months ago, DC Premier, now the primary Under Armor franchise in Washington, DC was started by two former heads of DC Assault, Damon Hamon and Mike Sumner, both intrical in making DCA one of the most successful AAU outfits in the country. Premier boasts a talented coaching/management staff, plus standout players existing in its ranks from eight and under through high school seniors.

This training camp for Premier's 16u and 17u teams served as a defacto announcement of sorts; DC Premier is on the scene. The two day session held at Ashland's Randolph-Macon College was successful by any metric.

Butch Cherry, instructing.

"I think it went great" afterward said 16u head coach and veteran AAU bench leader, Butch Cherry. "Some guys really stepped up". Furthermore, he noted the chance to work away from home in a relatively isolated environment allowed the players to dial in to "how we want them to play". To that end "They kind of met the expectations".

Eric Bowles, a Class of 2015, 17u point guard noted of the training camp "I think it went well. I just tried to come out and work my hardest". Part of his focus was conditioning, as he shared "I have to get back into AAU shape", with teams "pressing all game long".

Saturday, day one, saw a morning session packed full of drill work, followed by offensive set installation. The teams practiced amongst themselves, quickly running through several schemes, including a motion offense.

It was an upbeat, demanding session. For instance Cherry was overheard telling talented 16u forward Joe Hampton "You are trying to be too pretty. Get to the rim!"

The evening session was even more intense, with coaches demanding perfection. It was here that Premier's coaches, including 16u head guy Butch Cherry and 17u bench leader Corey McRae displayed a love and penchant for, instruction.

" I love to teach" laughed Cherry, when asked about his embrace of instruction. "One thing about AAU, we get a bad rap that we don't teach...and that's all we (DC Premier) do is teach".

Details were stressed during the session, which focused on defensive installation/work, including man to man and zone schemes like 1-3-1 and 2-3 looks. Offensively, the players were charged with recognizing various zones and learning how to attack them.

Sunday got off to an early bang, with the Breakfast Club; convening at 8a, players stretched, trained and went through drills for around an hour and a half. Such sessions serve multiple purposes, as players work on their bodies and skills, while coaches can assess those individuals truly desiring to get better and ones simply proclaiming they do.

"I was just trying to make sure those guys knew what work ethic is" shared Matt Parker, A 'Club' leader and Premier coach known for pushing and challenging his young charges. "You just can't get by going to practice and doing what you are asked. You have to go above and beyond".

Coach Martin 'Mo' Gibson, used not only the Breakfast Club but training camp to expand player's knowledge of improving physically.

"My goal was to basically wake these guys up on stretching. I know that's something taken for granted until they get injuries" he said. "To be familiar with being flexible and how it makes you that much of a better player on the court".

Eric Bowles prized camp's physical condtitioning opportunity.

Gibson, the running backs coach at DeMatha Catholic (MD) and a standout all sports trainer will continue working with Premier, training it's 12u-17u kids this summer.

After the Breakfast Club, the teams scrimmaged for an hour and a half, 16's vs. 17's. Coaches for both squads critiqued the players aggressively, chiding and supporting when necessary. The half court action was spirited, with substitutions occurring regularly, thus allowing coaches the opportunity to craft matchups and take their evaluation to another level.

"At some point, play basketball" barked 17u assistant coach Jamarr Betz, demanding players think the game and make adjustments on the fly accordingly. "You just don't run the play to run the play".

What about the future? Is DC Premier headed in the right direction?

"From a coaching standpoint, and I guess from an organizational standpoint, we still demand perfection" said Cherry. "We still demand winning. We still want great student-athletes There's nothing changed in the way we do things".

Handon, Sumner, Cherrym Parker and others, all former DCA coaches and leaders, know how to develop kids for all rungs of the college basketball spectrum. This past weekend was a good start.

"I thought it was successful, that we were able to lay down our foundation through the spring and summer and build a winning culture" said Handon. "I thought it was good the kids were able to develop some commadarie, and I thought the coaches did a fantastic job of teaching".

Players in the organization can expect many more lessons, designed to facilitate development, wins and scholarships.


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