By Randy Renner
Thunder backup forward Perry Jones III was in a playful mood Wednesday morning. And why not, he was afterall hanging out with a bunch of kids playing basketball at one of the Thunder’s youth basketball camps.
“They brought energy to me to be honest,” Jones said. “They’re so energetic in the mornings you gotta go out there and match it so just go out there and have fun with ‘em.”
And that’s exactly what Jones did.
“Today was fun. Every time I come to a Thunder camp I always have fun with the kids ‘cuz I’m a big kid at heart.”
VERY big, 6-11 big, and plenty of the kids oohed and awed as Jones walked onto the gym floor at the Thunder Community Events Center and they could see just how big he is.
So naturally they all seemed to want to know the answer to the same couple of questions.
“Are you taller than Kevin (Durant)? Can you beat Kevin? And you know I’ve just got to be modest about that,” he said with a big smile and a laugh.
Jones never had the chance to interact with an NBA player when he was growing up, never even had the chance to go to a basketball camp like what the Thunder puts on. So to have the chance to do something for these youngsters that no one was ever able to do for him as a child is very special and something he takes quite seriously.
“They usually never get to see us off the court, so coming out here they get to see we’re just one of them, we’re not too big time or anything like that. I think that’s special for them and I know it’s special for me. To have them interact with me as much as they do, it’s just special, it’s special.”
Of course there’s a bit of a serious side to all of this fun. The youth coaches who work with the youngsters at these Thunder camps work very hard at teaching the fundamentals of the game to younger kids and some special moves for the ones who are older. All of the work designed to help them get better at the game they love.
Jones is trying to do the same thing and he knows he has to get better as he goes into his third year with the Thunder.
“Just pretty much improve all around. Bring energy consistently and that’s a hard thing to do.”
It certainly has been for Jones. That’s been the knock on him since his days at Baylor. At least right now, as he focuses in on off-season workouts, he seems to know what he needs to do.
“I just need to try to be like Russell (Westbrook) and use my athleticism to my advantage and be a force out there offensively and defensively, dive for loose balls, just having that mindset.”
If he can approach the energy and intensity level that Westbrook brings then Thunder will finally have the player they hoped they were drafting back in the summer of 2012.
The Thunder will have more Youth Camps throughout the summer and as of the writing of this post, there are still some spots open. Here is the link to the Thunder Youth Basketball camps page at thunder.nba.com.