NBA’s David West focuses on emerging AAU program in lockout

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

NBA stars are finding all kinds of different ways to occupy their time during the ongoing professional basketball lockout. Some are running off to sign international contracts, others are popping up in pickup summer leagues more readily known for streetballing legends just to stay in shape.

Hornets forward David West
Hornets forward David West

Not Hornets forward David West. The New Orleans star has continued to oversee his Garner Road AAU program in North Carolina, which is rapidly developing a reputation for being one of the nation's best.

According to USA Today, West didn't miss a beat when his summer suddenly didn't require the intense personal training he has long made his standard. Make no mistake, West is still keeping in shape -- he goes through long personal training sessions each morning -- but he has found a way to focus more of his time on working with young athletes in the Garner Road program on a day-to-day basis, helping teach pick-and-roll sets and setting up intense workout schedules to help add structure and physical strength to his players' teenage lives.

All the while, West has guest lecturers come in to talk about how players in the Garner Road program can stay out of trouble. It's part of an effort that West has dedicated himself to because he feels obligated to help young basketball stars in a ways that can help get they more collegiate attention.

That was the goal when West spent $1.3 million to buy Garner Road's facilities and set up the more broad based program with his older brother, Dwayne West.

"Basketball is not an end for me. It's a means," David West told USA Today. "It's an instrument that I use to reach folks. It's organic. … This pays me in a way that money and the NBA can't.

"I'm giving these kids information I believe is unique," West says. "Where I got it at 25, I'm giving it to them at 12 and 13. It can benefit them."

West's outlook, as well as his admittedly more splurge-free lifestyle than most of his NBA peers, has set him up to withstand the league's lockout regardless of how long it lasts. The former All Star says he's not concerned about whether the lockout lasts the minimum of 50 games many think it will ... or longer. That's just more time he can spend at the Garner Road facilities, which run year-round and track all members of its 21 different youth teams.

The commitment to personal development and more structured lifestyle is clearing having an effect on Garner Road's top recruits, one of whom is currently ranked among the top 50 overall recruits in the Class of 2012 RivalsHigh 150.

"[West has] been on me hard, wanting me to do well," T.J. Warren, a Garner Road small forward currently ranked No. 36 in the RivalsHigh 150, told USA Today. "He's mentoring me to help me make the right decisions. Just think before I make choices. Stay away from negative things and try to do right all the time.

"I want to give back to little kids like these."

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