Advertisement

Raising howl: Kids -- Lobo players, young campers alike -- enjoying hoops in the Pit

Jun. 11—Quinton Webb was going to take it easy this year.

After all, it's all about the kids, right?

The third-year Lobo has been down this road a few times now — "coaching" kids in third through seventh grades at the annual summertime Richard Pitino Basketball Camp at UNM.

One of the more popular events each year is when the Lobo players helping run the camp and some of the campers go head to head in a game of knockout — a relatively simple shooting game in which players can "knock out" another player by making a shot before them. Every June, the knockout games in the Pit get rather intense and frantic, however, as the campers get loud and the players get competitive.

"I'm not gonna lie, today I wasn't going to take knockout that serious," said Webb, the 6-foot-6 guard who had every intention of letting some other players shine Tuesday.

"But then Donnie (Donovan Dent) wanted to start talking kind of hot. Shane (Douma-Sanchez) started talking extra hot. I ain't gonna lie, there were a couple of them kids (in the camp) talking, too. At first I was calm, but then it got going and I said, OK, we're going to lock in."

In the end, Webb won the game of knockout, much to the delight of many of the campers screaming their heads off in celebration at the dramatic winning shot that gave the San Bernardino, Calif., native the prestigious victory over the final two challengers — sophomore guard Douma-Sanchez and freshman forward Daniel Thomas.

Webb is quick to point out that's knockout win No. 2, having also won as a freshman in the summer of 2022, eliminating former Lobo teammate Javonte Johnson, who Webb insists "was talking crazy, too!"

Yes, the 98 smaller kids at camp did have plenty of fun on Tuesday — as well as the larger ones "working" like Webb, Dent, Douma-Sanchez and all the other Lobo players, managers and coaches.

"Truthfully, we aren't doing this to make a lot of money or anything like that. We do it because I think it's important to get the young generation in the Pit and in the practice facility and just build it (the program) that way," said Pitino, now in his fourth summer as head coach of the UNM men's basketball team.

"You do see often after our games kids that came to this camp in past years come up to you and they feel a part of it. That's really why we do it."

Webb said kids from camps over the past three summers always talk to him after games and when they see him around town. The campers don't just interact with Lobo players during knockout, of course, but also when they get divided into teams and the players coach them in live games in the practice facility and on the Pit floor.

"It's good for them," Pitino said of his players taking part in the camp. "They know how important this team is to the community and it's good for them to connect with the with the campers."

But can any of them actually coach?

"They aren't bad the first couple days, but they all get tired," Pitino said of his players when coaching the young campers. "They do great day one and day two, but by day three, you can see it. They get tired and sometimes aren't as good a coach as they thought they were."

There is a crew of more than a dozen or so players, managers, coaches and other team staffers helping run the camp, though the program's operations director Peyton Stephens and video coordinator Danny Walters are the two who primarily put the camps together each year.

This week's event is the first of two three-and-a-half day summer Pitino camps this year. The second is June 24-27 with about 20 spots still open. Information is available at richardpitinobasketballcamps.totalcamps.com.