NIU Hoops Players Attend NBA Caliber Workout

Lee Fisher Photo Courtesy of Brad Storm

Often the impressive facility of ATTACK Athletics located in Chicago sees clients working out who are bigger, stronger, older and who make a lot of money playing professional basketball. While they also train athletes in other sports as well as others who don't make a living playing any sport at their facility, many of the clients are recognizable basketball names.

Among the over 50 current or former professional basketball players that are clients of Tim Grover (owner, CEO and trainer) and Mike Procopio (Director of Basketball Operations) are Kobe Bryant, Carlos Boozer, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Dwyane Wade, Devin Harris, Paul Pierce, Andre Iguodala and Luol Deng. The impressive list goes on (and can be viewed on their Web site). O.J. Mayo, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Shaun Pruitt worked out there to prepare for pre-draft workouts. However, this past weekend 18 college players attended the 2nd ATTACK Athletics College Players Skills Camp.

These college student-athletes made sacrifices to experience this opportunity. They not only put up the camp fee to attend but also gave up a weekend that is one of just a few free ones many of them had between summer classes and workouts on their respective campuses and the start of the upcoming fall semester. When you consider the intensity and effort that was demanded of and in return displayed by them, you begin to get a picture of the investments made towards their college playing careers over the three days.

This was not the typical type of camp that many of these players likely attended as youths while learning the game and honing their skills. Procopio has extensive camp and training experience, and part of this camp is formatted after his 10 years of working experience at the Nike Select camp working guys out there. As stated earlier, ATTACK Athletics is often working out NBA players at their facility. This was not a camp designed for players to walk away from thinking it was ‘fun'. It was high intensity and was designed for teaching some concepts and getting in as much offensive skill work as possible during the sessions.

Procopio said he saw a void that needed to be filled and he approached Tim (Grover) with the idea of the college camp, but not just a camp for the elite college players. "We wanted a camp open to any college player at any level," Procopio said. "College coaches complain about the NCAA guidelines and how they can't work guys out in the summer, so we thought it would be a great idea for guys to come in and work out some in a great facility, to get some game shots up, maybe learn a couple of things, and just be positive and encourage them. Those are our goals."

The players participated in two sessions each on Friday and Saturday and then one final session on Sunday morning. While there was also some time in the facility's state-of-the-art video room watching the NBA'ers perform specific skills and techniques, most of the camp was spent on the court doing many of the same drills and learning the same techniques worked on with the professional clients all while hearing the near constant instruction and encouragement of Procopio. "It's tough to run camps like this because you need the contacts and support of the colleges," Mike said. "But college coaches are territorial and like a parent – they don't want to send their kids off to just any guy off the street trying to do something like this. But, we think our format is different because they are getting position work in and they are put in situations where we create drills to simulate what they need to do in game situations."

How closely do the workouts these college players went through resemble the workouts Kobe or another professional client might have? "The drills are exactly the same," Procopio replied. "The things we do at ATTACK every day with our clients are the same as we did here at camp, except those are on an individual basis. We watch a lot of film and determine what is needed for guys in each position to get. There is a lot of prep work and all our staff is on the same page with what we teach."

Matt Lawrence, a 6-7 senior wing at Missouri who is currently eighth on their all-time three point shooting list, is back for a second year of the ATTACK camp and said that the skills taught and worked on at this camp definitely helped his game at the college level. Last year's camp was a workout with just a few guys. This year they expanded to almost 20 players. Procopio hopes it will continue to grow. "I'm hoping to get to 40-60 guys," Mike said. "It's going to take support from the colleges, especially all the schools at all levels in our area. I'm kind of disappointed there wasn't a bigger push to get their guys here. I just want guys to get better. I'd like bigger numbers not just from the Division I schools, but Division II and III and NAIA and JUCO as well. I hear coaches say they wish guys would get some more skill work in during the summer and here's a chance to get some of that. And our cost is cheaper than what other training places charge or cheaper than what we would charge someone for a weekend of this."

Lawrence was one of only three seniors-to-be at the camp with the other two being 6-3 guard Quantez Robinson of Auburn and 6-10 Connor Atchey of Texas. On the other end of the experience scale were six who just graduated high school this past spring. Two of those are going on to prep school while the other four are moving on to begin their Division I careers. 2008 McDonald's All-American Chris Singleton is taking his 6-8 athletic and skilled frame to Florida State, as is his high school teammate 6-0 Pierre Jordan, while 5-5 Keith Smith and 6-6 Tyler Storm will be freshmen at Northern Illinois University.

Maybe the furthest trip was made by 6-6 Jr. Patrick Christopher, an incredible athlete who scored over 15 ppg for the University of California in the PAC-10. Some local products who have already logged minutes at high major universities included 6-1 Jacob Pullen (Kansas State) and 6-7 Brandon McGee (formerly Indiana and now Auburn).

Northern Illinois easily had the largest number of attendees working on their game. Besides the two aforementioned freshmen, 6-2 2008 MAC Freshmen-Of-The-Year Darion "Jake" Anderson, 6-10 Sean Kowal, 6-8 Ante Dzpina, 5-10 Michael Patton, and 6-5 Lee Fisher were pushing themselves all weekend.

Alphabetical listing of players in attendance:

Darion "Jake" Anderson (Northern Illinois -2008 MAC Freshmen of the Year)

Connor Atchley (Texas Sr.)

Max Banchy (Notre Dame Prep, MA)

Patrick Christopher (California Jr.)

Ante Dzpina (Highland C.C. / Northern Illinois Jr.)

Lee Fisher (Northern Illinois So.)

Pierre Jordan (Florida State Fr.)

Sean Kowall (Northern Illinois So.)

Eddie Lakes (Prairie State College – JUCO Fr.)

Matt Lawrence (Missouri Sr.)

Brandon McGee (Auburn - transferring from Indiana Jr.)

Michael Patton (Northern Illinois So.)

Jacob Pullen (Kansas State So.)

Quantez Robertson ( Auburn Sr.)

Chris Singleton (Florida St. Fr. 2008 McDonald's All-American)

Keith Smith (Northern Illinois Fr.)

Tyler Storm (Northern Illinois Fr.)

Derrek Tartt (Brewster Academy Prep)

** To get further information on ATTACK Athletics go to www.attackathletics.com

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