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Iman Shumpert to St. Maarten Youth: Compete!

nba_1~ NBA star says he loves the Caribbean vibe ~

NBA stars Iman Shumpert and Chris Copeland arrived on St. Maarten this week to run the second annual Iman Shumpert Youth Basketball Camp this weekend. The two-day camp is free to the island's aspiring ballplayers ages 6 to 17. Beginning at 9:00am today and continuing Sunday, the camp is to be held at Melford Hazel Sports Complex.

Shumpert is an athletic, exciting young NBA player with the New York Knicks. Born June 26, 1990, in Illinois, Shumpert played college basketball at Georgia Tech, was selected 17th in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft. He burst into the league showcasing rugged defence and a thrilling, high-flying offensive style of play. In addition to pro basketball, his music has received millions of YouTube hits, releasing his "KnicksTape" album Th3 #Post90s as well as singles Knicks Anthem and Chiraq. This is Iman Shumpert's second Island Hoops basketball camp in St. Maarten.

The camp is organized by local fireman Paul Bell and founder of the Island Hoops Basketball Academy. Bell is an experienced skills development coach and served on the "under 16" Netherlands Men's National Basketball team coaching staff.

The Island Hoop's motto – "Aim. Aspire. Achieve" – is well-incorporated into the vision for the camp. Young players are taught key basketball essentials and given the tools, knowledge and inspiration for life, achieving goals on and off the court, while raising their basketball level of play, according to Bell.

The Camp starts this morning focusing on instruction, teaching proper shooting, passing, dribbling, rebounding and defence. Sunday a few drills will be reviewed and then it is game time to see how much the athletes learned.

Shumpert, who plays shooting guard for the Knicks, stopped for a short visit with WEEKender in the arrival hall of Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) Thursday afternoon. He arrived with his brother and a film crew from the sports company And1 and was later joined by Copeland, his former teammate and now power forward for the Indiana Pacers. "Chris is one of my better friends in the NBA. He is one of those guys that throughout the year we text back and forth. We call each other, and like if he had a play where he got up on a lay-out and somebody blocked it up into the stands, I'm gonna video it and I'm gonna send it to him and we're gonna laugh it up. If anybody has a good game, we call each other. We just talk everything through. During my second year with the Knicks, he was one of the guys we used to practice together with; we got along great. We used to hang around after practice and play one-on-one; so we grew close. And so with me coming out here, I wanted to invite him so he could see the island. And I just wanted the kids to see something different; you know they got to see my hightop and now they can get to see his dreads."

Copeland was born on March 17, 1984, in New Jersey. He began his NBA career with the New York Knicks in 2012 and currently plays for the Indiana Pacers. A crafty, versatile talent, Copeland enjoyed success internationally prior to entering the NBA, playing professionally in Spain, Germany and Belgium, where he was named Most Valuable Player in 2011. In two NBA seasons, he has shot over 47% from the field and 42% from three-point range. Copeland's focus is to help young players target and understand their role in the team sport of basketball.

When asked what he wanted to communicate to the youth at the basketball camp, Shumpert answered with quick clarity, "To compete!" He stressed that kids need to know that it's okay to want to be better than everybody else; it's okay to always want to win, and that is a competitive nature that you can carry not only for basketball; but you can carry that into everything in your life. "You always want to ace every test; you always want to do your job to the best of your ability; and do each job before that deadline. Always try to be successful. As long as I can stress that to the kids, it'll be good."

When asked about the effect of having Phil Jackson as the new president of the Knicks franchise, Shumpert shared that Jackson, a coach with the highest winning percentage of any NBA coach, has had a huge influence on him. "Being a Chicago area kid, I was watching him my whole life, and I was praying that he would one day coach me. And now with him being the president of operations for the Knicks, I can't be in better hands right now. With both him and Derek Fisher, I definitely trust what they have going on and the vibe in the office has been great, and we are excited about the coming year.

Shumpert says he loves the Caribbean; he loves to be able to shut his mind off, put his phone away and just relax. "I love the vibe of it; I love the people!" He says hopefully he can come back at this time of year every year and keep making the camp bigger and better, making it more fun and bringing a couple of more guys every year.

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