Shortly after Maryville College men’s basketball coach Raul Placeres spoke to a high school team on Friday, one of the players approached Placeres in his office to seek more advice.
Placeres spent several minutes with the underclassman discussing his strengths and weaknesses and telling him what he needs to focus on in the final two years of his high school career if he wants to make a college team.
Meanwhile, hundreds of other high school kids were playing competitive games inside Boydson Baird Gymnasium. It may be the offseason, but Maryville’s coaches and other college staffs around the nation are hard at work getting their name out there and trying to find the next kid who may crack their starting lineup.
On Thursday and Friday, Maryville hosted a team camp in which schools from around Tennessee competed against one another. From Tuesday through Friday of this week, Maryville will do it again. This time it will include teams from Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and North Carolina.
Counting the six days of competition, Placeres said 75 varsity, junior varsity and middle school teams will play on Maryville’s courts. Two of the next four days, there will be games on all three courts from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Placeres has been running Maryville’s team camp for eight years, and this is the first time he has had to turn teams away.
“It’s always important to bring kids on campus to see our school,” Placeres said. “Even though we’re relatively close to all these high school programs I don’t know how often they really get to see our facilities, see what our program is about. This gives us an opportunity to showcase our program. It drives home to a lot of people that that small school down in Maryville is pretty darn good.”
The camp is mutually beneficial.
Kids may get precious 1-on-1 moments with college coaches, and if they don’t get that they’ll likely get to showcase their skills in front of them.
It helps the high school teams, too. William Blount competed on Friday, with its varsity team playing four games and its junior varsity team playing two. The Governors will be back this week, too.
Governors coach Kevin Windle said team camps provide high school coaches with opportunities to see which of their players have been working on their own, try different lineups and install new plays without any of it counting against their record.
Team camps this summer will especially help William Blount because of a high amount of turnover on the roster between last season and the next one. Windle said the Governors will also go to camps at Tennessee Wesleyan and Middle Tennessee State but that Maryville’s holds a special place in his heart because he used to play in it himself.
“It’s really fun, especially as well ran as this is,” Windle said. “We’ve been coming for years. We used to stay in the dorms and play. The first time I saw a dunk contest was in this camp. Those are the memories I have. It’s fun for these kids to have those memories as well, going to a team camp and competing against other teams in the summer.”
It remains to be seen if any of the players who competed last week or who will compete this week will play for Maryville College, but there is plenty of talent throughout the six days that it would not be surprising.
Spencer Shoffner, who played for Oak Ridge, caught the eye of Maryville coaches at the team camp and eventually became an all-conference performer and scored more than 1,000 points for the Scots.
This week, the camp will feature reigning state champions Bearden and Webb School. Maryville, Alcoa and Knoxville Catholic will compete, too.
“It really helps us evaluate local talent,” Placeres said. “It’s really, really neat for a small school like us to attract as many schools as we do.”