Aaron Burt was all over the country this summer with the powerhouse Team Final AAU program — Hampton, Va.; Atlanta; Indiana; Las Vegas; and South Carolina.
His last summer stop for the last four years, however, has been at Chester High, where he oversees a free two-day basketball camp for middle-school and high-school boys, mostly from Chester. Tyreke Evans, who grew up on the west side of Chester and once played for Team Final before heading to the University of Memphis and then the NBA, is the camp’s host. These are not the elite players, just kids who want to learn the game. Burt works some of the major invitational camps. This was not that, but it didn’t matter. He was going to be there.
Evans was there Saturday to work with the boys and went back again Sunday afternoon for what Burt called a “skill development/mentoring camp for the kids of Chester.”
Burt played alongside Vic Carstarphen for those terrific Camden High teams of the late 1980s. His day job, with the special-education department at Cherry Hill West, is just about to begin again, but he was not going to miss this opportunity to teach the game he loves.
“All of our Team Final coaches come, we volunteer our time,” Burt said Sunday morning in Fred Pickett Gymnasium. “This is a special weekend for us. We look forward to giving to the city of Chester and giving to the kids and showing them some of the things we do as a team so they can apply it.”
The camp has some beginners and some players much more advanced. Bottom line, it is basketball drills taught by men who know the game.
It was advertised that Evans would be arriving Sunday at approximately 11 a.m. to chat about the camp. Coming up from his new home near the University of Delaware and after a very late night that included watching the Mayweather-McGregor fight, 11 turned into 1. But the 2010 NBA rookie of the year made it back to the gym, where he watched so many games as a kid, including those played by one of his older brothers, a member of one of Chester’s eight state championship teams.
“Growing up in the area, this is important to me,” Evans said of the camp. “When I get a chance to come back and spend time with the kids, this is fun for me.”
The kids at camp not only learned some hoops, they also got school supplies, Nike T-shirts and backpacks. When Evans, 27, was learning the game from his brothers, Chester had no camp like this.
“This is a dream come true for me to be able to come back to my city and be able to do this,” he said.
After seven seasons between New Orleans and Sacramento, Evans, a 6-6 swingman who has averaged 16.1 points over 473 NBA games, signed a one-year, $3.1 million free-agent contract with Memphis last month. All told, according to basketball-reference.com, he has played under contracts worth almost $60 million. So the kid from Chester, who played his high school ball at American Christian Academy in Aston, has done well for himself and his family.
“We love hosting this event because he is Chester’s superstar,” said Duane Lee, Chester’s recreational services manager. “Whatever he wants, whatever he needs from us, we are going to give it to him on a silver plate. We just like to be able to assist in the camp.”
Evans is heading to Memphis shortly to get ready for training camp. It will be another homecoming for him after one college season playing for the Tigers.
Before that, there was this, the camp for Chester kids. And Evans promised he was not a passive observer.
“I jump into stations,” Evans said. “If they have any questions, they are welcome to ask.”
With so many basketball experiences from high school to college to the pros, Tyreke Evans, who was once asking the questions himself, knows many of the answers.