Full Court Press program makes stop in Howell

Rebecca Nowalski
Former NBA player Terry Dehere coaches kids on techniques during the Legends of Basketball and Jr. NBA Clinic at Howell Middle School North on April 1.

The Full Court Press: Prep for Success, a youth mentoring program with clinics held around the country conducted by former professional basketball players, made a stop April 1 in Howell, where about 135 youngsters ages 8-18 learned some life lessons and sharpened their basketball skills at Middle School North in Farmingdale.

“It’s very beneficial for youngsters to learn skills and drills from professionals,” said retired Howell police sergeant Chris Hill, one of the organizers for the Full Court Press program. “This gives them an opportunity to learn that, with hard work, they can make it some day. That may not be as a professional basketball player, where a very small percentage of players make it in the pros. They learn something about being successful. There are so many different avenues for kids to be involved in sports aside from playing it.”

NBA and WNBA alums Anthony Avent, Tony Campbell, Terry Dehere, Tamecka Dixon and Adrienne Goodson participated in the daylong event run by the National Basketball Retired Players Association, the official alumni association for former NBA, ABA, WNBA and Harlem Globetrotters players. It partners with the Junior NBA, Police Athletic/Activities League (PAL) and local community youth leadership organizations.

Law enforcement officers conducted classes early in the day on subjects that include drug and alcohol abuse and domestic violence. Members of the Leadership Foundation talked to kids about taking charge of their own lives and making wise decisions.

“We talk about different topics in different places. The one in Chicago dealt with shooting violence and the one in Utah discussed the refugee population,” Hill said. “We give life skills based on the region. Around here, there is a big problem with teen heroin abuse.”

After the classes, Investors Bank in Howell paid for the lunches.

Then, it was time for basketball lessons from retired pros with a wealth of experience on the high school levels — mostly from New Jersey — the college ranks and the pros.

Dehere was one of three starters on Saint Anthony High School’s No. 1 nationally-ranked team in USA Today who went on to the NBA. Dehere had an outstanding career at Seton Hall University, where his jersey number was tired and went on to an NBA career for six seasons with the Clippers, Kings, and Grizzles.

Avent also played at Seton Hall when it reached the NCAA men’s basketball tournament championship game before playing six seasons with five NBA teams.

Campbell excelled at Ohio State University and played on the NBA championship Los Angeles Lakers team in 1988 to highlight an 11-year pro career.

Goodson, a former Bayonne High School star, played much of her 14 professional seasons in the WNBA, where she became only the third player to score more than 4,000 points and grab more than 1,500 rebounds.

Dixon played 12 seasons in the WNBA, where she was named a WNBA All-Star three times and won a WNBA championship twice with the Los Angeles Sparks in 2001 and 2002.

They conducted clinics on dribbling, shooting, passing and rebounding and also instructed children who were placed on teams for games at the end of the afternoon.