CROTHERSVILLE — Bryant Layman knows in order to rebuild the Crothersville boys basketball program, it has to start with elementary and middle school players.
This week, Layman, who is boys basketball head coach at Crothersville High School, held a camp for boys in grades kindergarten through eighth grade with each session being 90 minutes.
“We had a very good spread of things,” he said. “We even had a couple preschool kids in here Tuesday night, so we had good age groups, great numbers. We’ve had 22 to 25 kids each night. With the younger boys, we’re really working on the basics. The first 45 minutes, we’re one total group where we do ball handling. The rest of the time, we’re dividing them into grades and somewhat by their skill level.”
Layman is beginning his second season as head coach of the Tigers.
“We noticed some of the high school kids missed out on (basics),” he said. “We’re not going to miss out on the young kids, so we’re really working hard on ball handling, ball movement and talking. Talking is a big thing that I think is lost in today’s game. That is what the younger kids are working on.”
After watching Gage Howard work on a rebound drill, Layman said, “We’re doing a little bit more advanced drills down here (with the older campers). We’re playing a little bit more basketball and stuff like that in different situations. We’re working on more high school stuff that you focus on. I see a lot of middle school kids miss out on just simply knowing how to chin the basketball. That is something that really starts to come in high school a little bit more, being strong with the ball.”
Layman worked with Avan Helt and the middle school campers on how to pivot and keep the ball away from the defense.
“Pivoting, believe it or not, is a lost art in today’s game, so we’re working really hard on the pivoting side,” Layman said.
Layman had his assistant coaches, the middle school and elementary coaches and several of the high school players also work with the campers, and he said he was glad to have their help.
Lanny McIntosh is the new varsity assistant, and Josh Thomas returns as the junior varsity coach.
Layman credited Kyler Blevins with doing an excellent job working with the third- through sixth-graders.
“He does a phenomenal job,” Layman said, and mentioned the Tigers won several tournaments and beat some bigger schools like Madison, Southwestern and Jennings County.
“I like our youth right now. It’s looking great,” Layman said.
One of the high school players helping was Preston West, who transferred from Austin and became eligible to play for the Tigers in the second semester.
“We’re teaching basic fundamentals with the little guys. They need to do that,” he said. “Even when you get in high school, you need to do that. We were making the older kids do defensive slides and work on their ball handling. They’ve got a talented younger group here if they get dedicated.”
Layman said the camp this summer is a big improvement over last year.
“We had a skills academy last year, and the average daily attendance was eight,” he said. “It was during the day, and it was hard to get kids here.”
The final two days of the camp will be later today from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and then Saturday morning from 9 to 10:30 a.m.