Atlanta Hawks Guard Trae Young gets introduced at the start of a youth camp at Norcross High School Saturday, July 27, 2019. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
Photo: Steve Schaefer
Photo: Steve Schaefer

Hawks’ Collins, Young give back at youth camps

John Collins and Trae Young share objectives – on and off the basketball court.

The young Hawks stars are trying to heed the words of coach Lloyd Pierce: “When you have leadership, you have ownership.” While the work will begin again soon on the court, Collins and Young spent time recently sharing the skill off the court by hosting youth basketball camps.

Young’s ProCamp took place first Saturday and Sunday at Norcross High School. Collins had his camp Monday and Tuesday at Flowery Branch High School. Each ProCamp featured about 150 youngsters between the ages of 6-18. The campers worked on basketball drills and played pickup games alongside the Hawks players for nearly three hours. Young and Collins shared a similar objective for the kids at their camps.

“Of course we want the kids to get better and improve, but at this age, primarily it’s about having fun,” Young said.

Whether it was one-on-one games versus Collins, which usually ended with a camper getting dunked on or his shot blocked. Or playing a full-court game with Young, the youth enjoyed the experience. Collins spoke on the impact NBA players have with camps such as these.

“It’s a huge impact, growing up I never had the chance to be in the presence of actual NBA players,” Collins said. “So to have the opportunity to do something like this, I just hope to be a bright light to these children.”

Perhaps the most impact from the camps were done behind the scenes as both Collins and Young helped sponsor underprivileged children to the camp. 

“It’s part of my duty, as a pro and a leader in the Atlanta community,” Collins said. “It’s always been one of my goals to help the less fortunate in my community, I just wanted to do it the right way, and I’m just happy I could finally get it done.”

Young echoed the sentiment. 

“I’m blessed to be here in Atlanta and be in a position to help them, so anytime I have the opportunity to impact a little kid I do so as much as I can.” 

>>Photos: Trae Young hosts camp at Norcross

ProCamps runs similar events nation and worldwide, according to director Sean Hanrahan.

“Their impact is huge,” Hanrahan said of Collins and Young. “Every kid needs to have many dreams, not just an athletic dream but social and academic dreams as well. And what Collins and Young are doing on the court and in their personal lives speak to that. Those are two guys, especially in this area, that gives these kids something to model after.”

Young and Collins took their head coach’s words to heart with leadership in the community this offseason. Now it’s time to lead on the court and Collins is ready to take on the role.

“Coach Pierce is absolutely right,” Collins said. “For us to take that next jump to All-Star and All-NBA, the next step is us becoming leaders and taking the reins of the team.”

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