This past May I traveled to Taiwan to work the Be Heroes Camp and the Nike All Taiwan Camp. It was a return trip with my coach from the Air Force Academy, Dave Taylor. Dave is the best coach I have ever played for or been around. You can visit his site here: http://coachdavetaylor.com/ When we got to Taiwan we R&R’d in Hualien with our Nike host, Jerry Ho and his family. Jerry and I went to lunch four years ago and from that meeting I have brought over fifteen players (and counting) from Taiwan to the states to include Benson Lin who just made the Jordan Brand International game. We got to see the Taroko Gorge and had a beautiful driving tour of the region. This part of the country produces some of the best basketball talent in the country. High school coaches come here to recruit the players for their teams in Taipei.
Every night for dinner a different family will host us in a restaurant. This is their way of saying thank you for placing their kids into American schools. The food is very delicious and sometimes challenging. My personal favorite is the fresh seafood.
Once we got back to Taipei we held a press conference for the start of the Be Heroes Camp. This camp featured the top forty junior high players in the country and Jeremy Lin’s Taiwanese Sports Agency sponsored the camp. The focus was to show these kids what they need to know if they want to play basketball in America. We noticed that the speed and intensity just wasn’t there. Also we had a lot of kids shooting threes who couldn’t consistently make layups. It was five sessions of hard work, but by the end they started getting the hang of it. Four of these players are coming to the states next school year and we didn’t want them to be shocked by the speed and physicality of the game.
After this we began the 2016 All Taiwan Camp. Former NBA player and slam dunk champion Dee Brown was the lead coach this year. Dave had to leave for Hawaii after the first day, so I helped Dee, along with Ken Wagner. Ken coached at BYU-Hawaii and was now the Taiwanese Women’s National Team Coach. There was some decent talent at the camp this year, but no dominate scorer. A lot of time needs to be spent in the gym individually to help correct this. I did see two definite division 1 players and a few other prospects. The kids did work hard and Nike put on a great event.
The other highlight for the week was the presence of George Raveling. Coach Raveling has been a division 1 coach at Iowa, Washington State, and USC. He also was an assistant coach on the 1984 olympic team featuring Michael Jordan. He now is one of the top executives at Nike. He gave a great speech to the players that they needed to hear. “How bad do you want it? What are you doing about it?” My dad actually was a camp counselor at the University of Maryland when George was an assistant there. The basketball community is a small world.
Aside from the culture, food, basketball and sightseeing, the best part of going to Taiwan is the people. I have made friends there over the years and seeing them each trip is the highlight. This year is especially exciting. The boys 17U team qualified for the World Championship in Spain. On June 23rd their first game will be against the USA. It will be a tough battle, but a memory the kids will have forever.