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posted: 4/11/2014 7:23 AM

Former Illini and NIU stars to headline Midwest Sports Academy Summer Basketball Camp

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  • Former University of Illinois standout Sean Harrington is one of the guest coaches at Midwest Sports Academy's summer basketball camp.Champaign News-Gazette

      Former University of Illinois standout Sean Harrington is one of the guest coaches at Midwest Sports Academy's summer basketball camp.Champaign News-Gazette

 
Jeff Smith

Ex-University of Illinois standout Sean Harrington and former Northern Illinois University letterwinner Stephanie Smith will make special guest appearances at this year's Midwest Sports Academy Summer Basketball Camp. Boys and girls entering fifth through eighth grade will take the courts of the Elgin Recreation Centre for three days of top-notch instruction from Tuesday, August 5 through Thursday, August 7.

After earning all-area and all-state honors playing for his father, Jim Harrington, at Elgin High School, Harrington took his lights-out shooting skills to the University of Illinois, helping the Illini reach the NCAA Tournament all four of his seasons at UI. An academic all-Big Ten selection, Harrington was one of the nation's top 3-point shooters, finishing as UI's No. 3 all-time leader in made three-pointers. He then moved into the coaching ranks, working with Bill Self at Kansas, Rob Judson at Northern Illinois and Bruce Weber at Illinois before joining the Big Ten Network as one of its top basketball analysts.

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A former AAU standout for Midwest Sports Academy, Smith was a four-year letterwinner at Northern Illinois. She played in 113 games at guard for the Huskies, starting 36, and was known as a heady player who could out-smart and out-hustle opponents. Smith also recorded a .350 three-point shooting percentage, the 10th-best mark in school history. After graduating in 2004, she entered the coaching ranks as an assistant at Marian Catholic and South Elgin High School and coached at the AAU level before becoming varsity coach at Burlington Central for two seasons. For the past two years she has served as director of basketball operations for the NIU women's squad.

The camp is an exciting opportunity for youth players to learn and sharpen their skills – and character – through outstanding instruction from Midwest Sports Academy's veteran coaching staff and guest coaches from area high schools.

Midwest Sports Academy CEO/Founder Jim Cook headlines the camp coaches. Cook has coached at the middle school, high school and collegiate levels for 25 years. He began the Illinois Team USA (now Midwest Sports Academy) AAU program in 1992, helping numerous youth attain their dreams as players in high school and college, including Lexi Baltes, an NCAA Division III All-American who led Illinois Wesleyan to the 2012 national title. Cook also coached Katie Burton on his AAU team. Burton starred at Crystal Lake South before earning a scholarship to play basketball at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where she was recently named to the all-Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference squad. In March, Burton helped Whitewater reach the NCAA Division III Tournament's Final Four for the second straight year and capture the school's second consecutive WIAC title with a 16-0 conference record.

The summer camp will feature one-on-one and small-group instruction on shooting, dribbling and off-ball movement as well as competitive shooting drills, ballhandling drills and repetitive practice to build the muscle memory needed to master these skills. Players will be taught how to maximize their offensive skills through high-school style workouts covering these skills:
• Jump shooting
• Shooting off the catch
• Shooting off the dribble
• Attacking the basket
• Dribble moves

An advanced workout for more developed players will teach excellent footwork, proper use of screens, movement without the ball, shooting off single and double screens and creating space and dribbling past the defender.

The cost of the camp is $100, and a nonrefundable deposit of $50 payable to Midwest Sports Academy should accompany the registration form. The balance of the fee is payable upon arrival at camp. Confirmation of registration will be sent upon receipt of the registration form and camp deposit. Registration will take place 30 minutes before the camp begins on August 5. A registration form can be downloaded at www.midwestsportsacademy.org.

The camp, which will run each day from 9 a.m. to noon, will take place at The Centre of Elgin, located at 100 Symphony Way in Elgin.

Midwest Sports Academy is a non-profit organization helping disadvantaged children and youth develop core values, college readiness and athletic skills through educational and sports programs. The academy serves kids and teens throughout the northwest and western suburbs as well as DeKalb County and the Rockford area. A sport like basketball is a powerful tool for instilling the academy's core values of a strong work ethic, personal discipline, honesty and respect that inspires youth to make positive decisions throughout their lives.

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