July 18, 2014

Camp Huddleston's way of giving back

Allen Huddleston is on the cusp of realizing a lifelong dream.

Allen Huddleston is on the cusp of realizing a lifelong dream.

While the NBA didn’t come calling following his senior year at Fresno State, Merced High’s all-time leading scorer has no shortage of options for playing professional basketball abroad, with his best offers coming from Italy, Spain and Australia.

But before Huddleston takes off to pursue his dreams, he’s hoping to foster a new generation’s worth at home.

The inaugural Allen Huddleston Youth Skills Camp will begin on Monday at Don Reid Court and run through Thursday. The camp is open to boys and girls ages 7 to 17 and will run from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Campers will receive hands-on training from Huddleston, his father, Merced College women’s basketball coach Allen Huddleston, and some of his former Fresno State teammates.

The cost is $50 for children 7-12 and $75 for kids 13 and up.

“It’s something that I’ve always had in the back of my head that I wanted to do,” Huddleston said. “When I think about all the people from this area that have supported me through high school, at UOP and then at Fresno State, this is my opportunity to give back.

“I’m living proof that if you have a dream of playing basketball at the highest levels and are willing to put in the work, you can make it happen. That’s what I want to give these kids. I want to help create their dreams and then have them grow up and be better than I ever was.”

Huddleston said he’s hoping for 50-plus kids to attend the first of what he intends to make an annual event. He also has plans to start his own AAU basketball team during his offseason.

“I just remember growing up and having to go to San Francisco to attend big camps or to have to go to Stockton or Fresno to play on good AAU teams,” Huddleston said. “I feel like it's on me to create a better experience than I had growing up and help them take basketball to a higher level than I achieved.

“Ultimately, it’d be great if we got 100 or more kids every year.”

As for his professional career, Huddleston is waiting for the NBA summer league to finish and for rosters to become finalized before he commits anywhere.

“I’ve got offers to play in the Spanish and Italian second leagues and in the Australian first league,” Huddleston said. “They’re all pretty lucrative offers, so I’m just waiting to see what’s going to be the best opportunity for me.

“Basketball has become a really big deal in Europe. There’s a league in pretty much every country and it’s the next best thing to the NBA. I could go the D-League route, but then it could be three or four years before you ever get a look from an NBA team and it’s almost always a 10-day contract.

“I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I really feel that going to Europe is the best thing for me. I can make a little money, experience another culture I might never have gotten to otherwise, and then hopefully re-brand myself after three or four good years and try to reach the NBA that way.”

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