Former Gophers basketball star Quincy Lewis learned a great deal when he was a student at the University. But his learning wasn’t confined to the court or the classroom; it carried him into the community as well.
On June 26, Lewis, now a member of the NBA’s Utah Jazz, was at Minneapolis North High School for his first-ever Life & Basketball Camp.
Lewis, 23, who still considers the Twin Cities one of his homes, spent the entire day with about 150 children ages 9-16, giving them tips on shooting, passing and life in general.
His motive was simple: just to give back to the community that gave him an opportunity to succeed in basketball — and life — at the college level.
“This is just an extension from when I was with the Gophers,” Lewis said. “I really enjoy this community, so I just wanted to be a part of it.”
But the young children weren’t the only ones who benefited from the presence of an NBA player in their back yard.
Lewis had many counselors from North help out, which gives them a chance to see if coaching basketball might be in their future.
“When you come out here and talk to the kids, it’s more than just playing ball,” Lewis said. “You have to be articulate. You have to be able to talk to the kids. It takes a little bit of work.”
This was the first year of the camp, but Lewis hopes with financial support from Adidas, it will be bigger and brighter in years to come. He plans to have a camp in both Minneapolis and St. Paul next summer.
Lewis also mentioned the possibility of traveling throughout the state to conduct several minicamps.
The idea for the camp was something Lewis credited to former Gophers coach Clem Haskins. He said it was Haskins, as well as ex-athletic director Mark Dienhart, who encouraged players to give back to the community.
“They made it so it wasn’t a chore. You would want to do it,” he said.
Lewis, who averaged 3.8 points in 12.1 minutes in his rookie year with the Jazz, said his first season in the NBA was a definite learning experience.
“Anytime you move up (a level), you always have expectations,” Lewis said. “I can’t say that I lived up to those expectations, but for the most part, it was fun.”
Part of that fun had to do with the team Lewis was on and who his teammates were. Utah’s Karl Malone and John Stockton are both future hall of famers.
But Lewis didn’t let the star-struck feeling affect his play on the basketball floor.
“Once you step on the court, you have to get down to basketball,” Lewis said. “I look at their stats and know they’re great basketball players, so I’m just fortunate to be playing with them.”
As for his connection to the Gophers, Lewis is still a fan. Although his college coach is long gone from Williams Arena, he will continue to cheer for the Gophers under coach Dan Monson.
“I follow the University as an alumni. I’m not a critic. I’m a full supporter and always will be,” Lewis said. “Dan knows that if he ever needs help as far as recruiting or talking to the players, I will do anything to help the University.”
John R. Carter is the sports editor and welcomes comments at [email protected]