Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Orange Park Coach's Camp Has Visions of LeBron James

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Orange Park Coach's Camp Has Visions of LeBron James

Article excerpt

Byline: Stephen Kindland, Clay County Line sports writer

Orange Park High School girls basketball coach Earl Barnett used two words to describe what he saw as he surveyed 30 youngsters taking part in his inaugural Spring Break Basketball Camp this week.

"The future," he said, eyeing several youngsters with budding talent.

Barnett, who took over Kim Pereira's job at Orange Park last season, is building his own style of program; one based on long-range planning.

Support from the school's administration and community involvement are the keys to success, he says. And because he has the whole-hearted backing of Principal Michael Wingate, all that's left is getting to know future players -- and their parents -- when the players are young.

That's why Barnett, two of this year's team members and Steven Culp, a longtime friend and teammate of Barnett's at Valdosta State College in the 1980s, spent this past week stressing fundamentals to a group of 7- to 13-year-old boys and girls in the school's Raiderdome.

Barnett invited Culp to his first camp, and he used Culp's notoriety as an assistant coach at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Ohio to attract campers. Culp coached NBA rookie sensation LeBron James for four years at St. Vincent-St. Mary.

That, coupled with Barnett's experience coaching 2003 NBA Rookie of the Year Amare Stoudemire when Stoudemire played at Orlando's Boone High School, made for an attractive promotions package.

Both coaches agree that Orange Park's student population has enough talent to compete with area schools in virtually every sport, but Barnett's main concern is to increase the number of girls interested in playing basketball by making his program more visible in the community.

Culp, a Boston-area native who has coached numerous inner-city kids where basketball is a way of life, said he thinks Clay County is a "gold mine" for successful programs.

"It can be done here, but you've got to outwork people," he said. …

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