Local summer hoops program builds fundamentals of the game

The Knights Basketball Program has just completed its third season of summer basketball.

This group began practicing in March and recently concluded the season with their final tournament in Longview, Texas. The team consists of 21 boys from eight different schools, with 14 of those players coming from Lincoln Parish Schools: Ruston High School, Ruston Jr. High School, Cedar Creek, and Choudrant High School.

The Knights’ players were divided into two teams this season with each team playing 17 games. The older team won second place in two of the four tournaments, instituting a no-drive, man-to-man defense this year, which helped them hold their opponents to only 36 points per game in the last two tournaments. 

This defensive effort was a huge part of the reason for such a successful season.

While the younger team didn’t place in any of their tournaments, the younger Knights are building a foundation of skills that they can continue to build on to improve.

While a number of players have been with the program for all three years, for others, such as Hudson Paul from Ruston High School, this was their first year with the program. 

“Hudson enjoyed having this opportunity to play with the Knights this summer,” said Hudson’s mother Tanya Paul. “He worked with the coaches developing fundamental skills both on and off the court.” 

The Knights work with any level of player seventh grade through 12th grade and help that player to become the best version of themselves, both on and off the court. The players are taught and spend a large amount of time on skill development, which helps each player become the best player they can.

In addition to basketball, the boys are also required to memorize quotes that apply to basketball and life and these quotes are discussed on a regular basis.

While successful in a number of tournaments this summer, success for this program is not necessarily measured in the win loss column, it is measured by each player improving their skills on and off the court, in order for them to help their school teams in the fall.

The overall mission for this program is to “help develop young men to become the best basketball player and person they can be through developing their skills, attitude, and mental toughness.”

The Knights Program is headed up by Phillip Thigpen, with Matt Barham, Blake Duncan, and Dale Gregory assisting. For these coaches, it is more than just about coaching basketball, they have a passion to coach and teach players how to be better basketball players, but also to make a positive impact in their lives and to show them that the things they learn on the basketball court can help them in the game of life.

That is evident as you watch them teach in practice and coach in games. And players and parents are receptive to this approach.

Brad and Brooke Martin, whose son Nolan has played for Thigpen for three years said, “We have loved the Knights basketball program. (Nolan) as grown as a basketball player and as a teammate. He loves the game, and he has become a better player with Coach Thigpen. Most importantly, he has learned life lessons like how to keep looking ahead and how all he can control are his effort and his attitude.”

Members of the team were Jackson Ambrose, Damian Carr, Benton Case, Rex Freling, Anderson Godlewski, Kaleb Gregory, Landon Hall, Cash Ingram, Andrew Jernigan, Nolan Martin, Cade McMahon, Cooper McMahon, James Myers, Hudson Paul, Grant Perry, Beau Phillips, Malcolm Pierce, Jack Robbins, Avery Skains, Cameron Temple, and Carson Trammell.

“If you are considering a summer team, we highly recommend playing for Coach Thigpen,” Tanya Paul said. “He definitely has the boys’ best interest at heart.”

Knights Basketball offers private workouts year around and group skill development practices at Northeast Baptist School in West Monroe.

The skill development practices are open to any seventh-  through 12th-grade boy. These skill development practices are from – 3:30 p.m. and are only $15.

These practices are scheduled for July 30, August 13, August 27, Sept 10, Sept 24 and Oct 8.

Anyone interested in a private workout, skill development practice or joining the team should call Matt Barham at 318-243-6781 or Phillip Thigpen at 318-267-7401 or email Thigpen at phillipthigpen@hotmail.com.

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