Local Sports: Holding an ID camp for the Kings coach is easy? Ya right!

Looking from the outside it appears to be an easy job putting together an ID camp.

How hard could it be. Send out invitations, put up a few posters and watch the recruits stream in.

RDC Kings basketball head coach Clayton Pottinger only wishes it was that easy.

Pottinger just returned from an camp in Las Vegas where he had 15 players on hand — three Canadians and 12 imports — all of whom could play in the Alberta Colleges Men’s Basketball League.

Prior to the camp Pottinger had a list of close to 60 players he was interested in.

“There may have been the odd player in the larger group who were better players but we looked at the right combination of talent, desire, eligibility and money,” said Pottinger. “It took a lot of calls to coaches, players and parents to find players with the right amount of interest and who we groomed a relationship with.”

Then came the next step, cutting the imports down to five from which he hopes to get three.

“We offered (a spot) to the three Canadians which was easy but it took some hard-core vetting to get it down to five imports from which we’d be happy with any combination of three.”

Pottinger has run camps in Washington and Phoenix in previous years.

“We ran the camp in Vegas as it so happened there were a couple of guys we were looking at from there and because of cheap flights and cheap hotels it was a natural place to hold the camp.”

All the players at the camp, but one, have post-secondary experience, unlike last season when Pottinger brought in a number of players just out of high school. In the end most of them moved on, except for point guard Solon Ellis.

“There are positives and negatives in kids with post-secondary experience,” said Pottinger. “They have that experience and talent to play at this level, but they can be set in their ways a bit and possibly not as pliable.”

But as he saw last season younger players are at times tough to keep.

“A lot of them haven’t completely made up their mind what they want to do … have many options and don’t understand the advantage of staying in one place and growing as a player and part of a team,” said Pottinger.

All Pottinger has to do is look at Spencer Klassen and Eric Bakker to find players who believe in the Kings culture and staying and building a team.

In fact Kevin Szymanek, Cody White and Kharrum Sultan, Ellis and Barzin Eskandarkhah fit into that team concept.

Elis attended the camp in Vegas with Pottinger and talked with the group.

“He talked to them about playing in Canada and the advantages, such as an extra year of eligibility and of course the difference in our dollar,” said Pottinger.

One player who talked with Clayton sent up a “bit of a red flag” as he has played for three schools.

“He told me he wanted to find a coach and a team that believed in him, not play in the meat market of the ju-co (junior college) system. He said he’s been through that ringer and wanted to find a home.”

The number of players to come out of the Vegas camp is still up in the air but Pottinger does have four Alberta kids — three from the Kings Club program — registered.

Andrew Cunningham of Lacombe, Payton Baltzer of Rocky Mountain House, Rudy Saffo of Notre Dame and Brett Hochhauser of Leduc have committed. All but Hochhauser played two years with the Club program.

“All the kids fit into our program,” said Pottinger. “Andrew is the son of Murray Cunningham) and possibly our top player on our Club team while Payton is highly skilled and Rudy is a physical, talented kid who can play up front, as is Brett.”

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at drode@reddeeradvocate,com

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