For most, the opportunity to play on the hardwood at historic Cameron Indoor Stadium on the Duke University campus only comes after years of hard work, the accumulation of elite skills and being able to catch the eye of famed basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski.
For one local 12-year-old, it didn’t take quite that long.
Dane Suess, a Yuba River Charter student, won’t be donning a Blue Devil jersey just yet, but he did get the basketball experience of a lifetime. Suess recently attended a four-day basketball camp hosted by Duke and its future Hall of Fame coach, Krzyzewski.
“My mental game for sure improved,” Suess said. “My defense also improved a lot. I actually played against Coach K’s grandson Michael, and his team was 5-0, and we beat them luckily. He was the best player at his position in the camp. He could do anything.”
Suess, who prides himself on being able to play all five positions, said the camp provided valuable experience, knowledge and new skills.
Suess said he got to play in seven games, including one at Cameron Indoor Stadium. There were also drills, tutorials and speeches on the importance of good sportsmanship and other aspects of the game given by former Duke players and Krzyzewski.
“I got to meet lots of the former players like Marshall Plumlee, Nate James, Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith,” Suess said.
The highlight of Suess’ trip came on the last day when he won the free-throw contest for his age group. Suess hit 11 straight free throws to claim the title of best free-throw shooter at the camp in his age group.
Nearly 750 young basketball players attended the camp, which cost around $500, said Dane’s mother, Marty Suess.
The decision to attend the Duke camp was a tough one, but close family ties and Marty’s affinity for Krzyzewski sealed the deal.
Dane’s grandfather was close friends with Eddie Cameron for whom the stadium in named after, Dane said. Both Dane’s grandfather and great-uncle are Duke alums, but his grandmother is a North Carolina University graduate.
“The decision to go to the Duke camp over the North Carolina camp was Coack K,” Marty Suess said. “I mean he coached the Olympic team, and the fact that my child can go to see and play and train under him is amazing. He was there every day and addressed the camp daily.”
Now back in California, Dane hopes to put his new knowledge to work with his current AAU team, the Nevada County Gold, he said.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.