Detroit Free Press
By Mark Snyder, Free Press Sports Writer
For the first six weeks of the 2008-09 basketball season, many expected Laval Lucas-Perry would become eligible and be named Michigan’s starting point guard.
As a freshman, however, even with his year of experience on the bench as a transfer, that was more difficult than he expected, and it became a position ceded to other players as Lucas-Perry played off-guard, primarily as a shooter.
So when U-M coach John Beilein suggested he go to the Point Guard College this summer, the Grand Blanc sophomore embraced the chance. Last week, Lucas-Perry was immersed in the point-guard world run by Dena Evans, a former Virginia standout and respected teacher.
“Coach Beilein had a few players at West Virginia come down to work on their point-guard skills and vocal skills on the court,” said Lucas-Perry, U-M’s fourth-leading scorer last season at 6.5 points per game. “I’m looking forward to making a big improvement on last season and fill the point-guard role.”
The five-day camp at St. James School in Hagerstown, Md., was an intensive process that had Lucas-Perry studying nearly as much as he does in his U-M classes.
Evans’ mentor, Dick DeVenzio, founded the program and ran it until he died in 2001. Evans took it over and expanded it from 13 or 14 camps to 34, mostly with high school and small-college players.
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This past week was the first session strictly for college players, and Lucas-Perry was the only male player from an elite conference school.
Each day began at 8 a.m. and featured about 4 1/2 hours of classroom session — “they take notes, there’s a final exam,” Evans said — and six hours on the court with drills and games with point-guard-specific rules.
“They’re on you about everything,” said Lucas-Perry, who paid for the camp with money earned working camps over the summer. “If you’re not vocal enough, they’ll call you out in front of everybody.
“I came into the thing open-minded, I’m enjoying this and improving in this summer. I’m losing 15 pounds, working on being more agile, quicker and more athletic.”
Lucas-Perry wants to improve, beyond simply spending the summer playing pickup ball (which he has done with his teammates as well). Last summer, he went on the Athletes in Action trip to Taipei, Taiwan.
“I always knew I was a point guard, having a mind-set of a point guard,” Lucas-Perry said. “This year was a wake-up call to me, though. College is a little different and with taking summer school classes, I’m making a priority for this too. I want to help the team get back to the NCAA tournament.”
This is the spot where, if Lucas-Perry was just appeasing Beilein, he’d be at the college big-timing the other men players from smaller schools and dismissing the women players — some of the nation’s best, including Virginia’s Monica Wright and Connecticut’s Lorin Dixon.
But anyone who has met Lucas-Perry, or any member of his athletic family, can’t imagine that.
“He’s been a great student of the game this week, taken a ton of notes and our emphasis is not competition,” Evans said. “Laval is one of the best players here, one of most talented players here. We’re teaching them the subtleties of the game. He had to do some things he’s not comfortable doing. When he leaves here, he’ll leave with special habits and maybe a different understanding of the subtleties of the game.”
PGC Basketball recently partnered with DNA Basketball Academy to host a special clinic in Hawaii with NBA center Enes Kanter of the New York Knicks.
After 82 regular season games, the NBA schedule rolls into the playoffs this weekend where a pair of PGC grads will make their postseason debuts.
Founded in 1939, the NCAA Tournament has provided decades of entertainment, elation, and heartache to players and coaches all over the country.
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