Coach McMillan's Hoops Camp: A Family Affair
By make it better
Roland Whitley has followed Nate McMillan’s career since the now Trail Blazers head coach was a high schooler in North Carolina. He studied him. He admired him. He emulated him. And yesterday, he finally met him.
Whitley and his son Roland III, who just so happened to celebrate his 13th birthday yesterday, traveled from New York to Coach McMillan’s Nike Hoops Camp. Whitley not only wanted to meet McMillan but give his son a chance to learn from his own inspiration for basketball.
“I always wanted him to pattern himself after certain players. Nate was Mr. Sonic because of his durability. He ran that team. They needed Nate to run that team. And he could play.
“So when my son got old enough, I told him it would be a great opportunity to take advantage of all Nate does in the community. So there was no doubt we were coming.”
Whitley arrived at the first day of camp decked out in NC State Wolfpack red. He played on the squad two years from 1988-90, under legendary coach Jim Valvano, just as McMillan did. Although he didn’t quite have McMillan’s 6’5” frame, he constantly watched film on him, looking for tips and tricks that could gain him an edge.
“I really watched him. In college, I really liked his style. He was always very much in control.”
But Whitley has kept up with McMillan’s impressive and expansive basketball career long after either of their days in North Carolina.
“He was an All-American in high school. He went to NC State and did very well. Then he went to the NBA in Seattle and did a great job. Then he was an assistant coach, and now he’s been a head coach for 11 years. He’s coached the Olympic team not once, but twice. You don’t just do that.
“I tell my son you can still be around the game a long time if you love it. Nate’s never worked a day in his life.”
Now Whitley’s idol is working with his son. Traveling three thousand miles for a summer camp never made more sense.
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(By: Aaron Grossman)