After four years of college at Georgia Tech, West transitioned into the professional ranks in 2007, including stints with the Atlanta Hawks and New Jersey Nets of the NBA.
The Douglasville native returned to his alma mater and hosted a youth basketball camp from July 21 to 24.
“These are my roots and the camp is something I’ve always wanted to do,” said West from the Douglas County gym in an interview last week. “I finally had the opportunity to have the camp and [I am] grateful to connect with the kids and shape their lives through basketball.”
The camp hosted more than 60 students ages 7 to 17.
Douglas County head boys’ basketball coach Hollis Bethea said, “We wanted to get Mario back involved in the community and held the camp to put our interests together.
“We wanted to give the kids fundamental skills to work on and have fun with professional players.”
West said he wanted to create a competitive but positive environment for the campers.
“Many kids have skills but their confidence level isn’t there,” said West. “We wanted to enhance their skills and teach fundamentals but sportsmanship as well.”
The campers also gained knowledge from guest instructors and speakers such as Jarrett Jack of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and Anthony Morrow of the Oklahoma City Thunder, who are Georgia Tech alumni like West. The lessons included life skills and academics.
“We were all kids at one point and for the campers to see professional players in person is everything,” said West. “It’s an inspiration to start their own legacies.”
West, who played for the Meralco Bolts of the Philippine Basketball Association last year, is weighing options for this season but plans to host another camp next year in Douglasville.
“I also want to have clinics for the older kids with a faster learning curve,” said West. “I would also like to incorporate some of my teachings into videos.”