Coach Dee comes home to teach youth fundamentals of basketball

  • Area teens participated in the Fundamental Basketball Academy held at Blackville-Hilda High School last week under the direction of Coach Dee Thomas.

Getting a basketball into a goal ring was not the only thing nearly 30 youngsters learned last week.

They learned hard work, sweat, determination, teamwork and the fundamentals of basketball.

In less than a week’s time, they learned disciplines they will take with them for a long time.

The teens participated in Fundamentals Basketball Academy under the watchful eye of Coach Darlene “Dee” Thomas, a Blackville native and Atlanta resident. Fundamental Basketball Academy is a business to “teach athletes the proper fundamentals of basketball along with teaching them sportsmanship, team play, positive work ethics, and at the same time acquire new and lasting friendship,” according to her website.

After graduating Blackville-Hilda High, Thomas was a star player for Wingate University before traveling to Europe to play professional basketball in Italy, Greece, and Hungary.

Last March she returned to her hometown to sponsor a basketball clinic for a range of youth. Last week she returned again but this academy was for teens only who wanted to put in the work and gain new skills.

All of Blackville-Hilda’s varsity girls’ basketball team participated. Lady Hawks Coach Coretta Richmond said she wanted her team to take advantage of the opportunity.

“It builds character and teaches them better work ethics,” said Richmond, watching the girls from the sidelines. “They learn fundamentals. This pushes them A LOT,” she emphasized.

Richmond thinks her team will go far in the playoffs but they have to win the regular season to get there. And to win the regular season, the Lady Hawks need to win games.

Richmond said she learned new tactics and will be continuing to drill the girls on the skills they learned during the academy.

Orangeburg-Wilkinson Head Basketball Coach Willie Thomas, also a native of Blackville, brought some of his players to participate in the clinic.

“They need to see what work really is,” said Willie Thomas.

He said the players “got more here in a few days” than some have ever received before.

The teens were all dressed in black shorts and Fundamental Basketball Academy T-shirts. When at “rest”, they looked disorganized.

Then, a whistle blew. Boys and girls quietly formed lines on the court.

Another tweet of the whistle. “Ready!” came the chorus as they all took a stance.

And another tweet. The drill began.

They were in unison and focused on their movements.

Thomas watches their movements. She gauges them from skills. And she plans to keep an eye on the very best of these teens.

Thomas not only offers clinics but helps promising athletes to find their way onto college and professional courts.

It’s a mission for her.