Dixon lends helping hand at Loyola camp

Event is a joint venture between ex-Terp, Patsos


August 05, 2004|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

During an appearance at Champions Basketball Camp at Loyola College, Juan Dixon wore many hats, in addition to the fisherman's cap on his head, when he entered Reitz Arena yesterday.

He started as a storyteller, sitting in a folding chair, before narrating his path from East Baltimore to Calvert Hall and Maryland, then to his NBA career with the Washington Wizards.

When needed, Dixon playfully scolded kids who nodded off by lobbing small rubber balls toward them. To liven things up, he portrayed a game-show host, pressing a trio of 8-year-olds to play P-I-G for one of his old Terps jerseys.

Dixon, a co-headliner of the the camp, along with Loyola men's basketball coach Jimmy Patsos, has been trying to strike a balance between relaxed and informative in his time on the court this week.

"I'm always going to be a kid," said Dixon, whose slight frame is similar to some of the campers. "After all, that's what they called me at Maryland, `The Kid.' I just want to tell them how I did it, how I got here."

The all-day camp - drawing 140 youths (ages 8 to 16) for this session, after 110 for an earlier one in June - is a joint venture between Dixon and Patsos, who was an assistant at Maryland when Dixon led the Terps to the national championship in 2002.

Upon replacing Scott Hicks as the Greyhounds' coach in April, Patsos hoped to start a camp similar to the one he organized each year for Gary Williams in College Park.

Patsos and camp director Terrell Stokes had know-how on their side, but time was another matter in terms of drawing prospective customers from a pool of families who might already have summer plans.

Enter Dixon, whose triumphs are still fresh in the minds of campers and who was looking for a venue for a camp before Patsos took his new job. With help from his girlfriend, Robyn Bragg - who did much of the legwork finding campers, going to social services and community groups - Dixon also provided the enterprise a boost that might not have been there otherwise.

"He has a great name, and he's from Baltimore," said Stokes, a former Terps guard who is now an assistant to Patsos. "It also helps that we're from Maryland. Organizationally, it helps that we know how to run a camp."

During this week and the previous session, between workouts at his home in Silver Spring and other promotional commitments, Dixon's presence has been a staple. It hasn't been uncommon to see Dixon join campers in shooting drills, after which he might play with the Loyola players who are still on campus for summer school.

If it seems as though Dixon relishes the time, it's because such events weren't available to him until high school.

"My camp was the Gardenville basketball courts," he said. "I didn't have the opportunity, so to give back, it makes me feel good."

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