ROCKINGHAM — Richmond Senior boys basketball coach David Laton watches a play on the court and cracks a smile.
He knows in a game the referees would have disallowed the basket for travelling, but today the points are put on the board. Not that anyone is really keeping score.
Laton is hosting a basketball camp at the school for children from 8 to 14 years of age and beams when he talks about working with the younger participants.
“This is like a community service for us,” Laton said. “We aren’t making much money on this. It’s fun working with the young kids and teaching them the fundamentals of the game. The kids may learn something, have a good time and may come back again.”
Assisting Laton during the camp is his assistant and former RSHS head coach, Tom Baucom, as well as four members of the Raider varsity team and another with the Lady Raiders. Laton believes having current players working with the campers is a good opportunity to expand their knowledge of the game.
“It gives our kids a chance to teach fundamentals, which will help them understand them as well,” Laton said. “The camp gives these kids a chance to play in the big gym here. In a small community like this, they look up to these players as role models.”
While Laton knows he may not find the next Blake Griffin, Kobe Bryant or even Will Freeman in his camp this week, he hopes something he or his counselors talk about may make a difference for one of the campers.
“We stress things like hard work and sportsmanship,” Laton said. “Even for kids that may never play high school basketball, they can learn lessons here and use them somewhere else. This is just a good experience for the kids.”
The former high school coach of New Orleans guard Chris Paul believes he is starting to bring the Richmond program back to prominence, not only in the Southeastern Conference but around the state. The three-time state runners-up lost to A.C. Reynolds in 1988, Dudley in 1996 and Independence in 1997 in the 4A state finals. Under Laton, the Raiders finished 16-8 and 17-9 and advanced to the state 4A playoffs.
“I think historically this will always be a football and baseball powerhouse,” Laton said. “There will always be players that gravitate to basketball and others will want to play football or other sports. I know I can always find at least eight that want to play basketball. The good thing is that I always think you can be competitive here at Richmond.”
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