Article by Amanda Warren '18
Photos by Amanda Warren '18 and Julia Beckel '18
An array of neon basketball shoes cover the baseline. Campers watch Phil Pressey demonstrate the next drill while cones are zig-zagged in front of them. They begin dribbling towards half court, trying to stay in control as they cross-over at each cone. Phil Pressey stops the drill to adjust their form by reminding them to stay low because “the lower player usually wins the battle.”
Phil Pressey graduated The Episcopal School of Dallas in 2010 and went on to play basketball at the University of Missouri until he decided to forgo his senior year and declare for the NBA draft. He went undrafted but was signed by the Boston Celtics in July of 2013. Since being let go by the Celtics, he has bounced around between teams including the Philadelphia 76ers, the Phoenix Suns, and most recently the Golden State Warriors until being moved to their affiliated D-League team, the Santa Cruz Warriors this past NBA season.
In the midst of playing NBA pinball, Pressey has collaborated with ESD head varsity basketball coach Corey Henderson, who won two SPC titles together, by running a youth basketball camp at ESD since the summer of 2014. The Phil Pressey Basketball Camp ranges in all ages, skill levels, and genders. They host younger players from 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. followed by an advanced session for older players from 4:00 - 7:00 p.m. What makes this camp unique is Pressey and his incredible staff, most of whom are family (including Pressey's father, former NBA player Paul Pressey). Henderson says, “When you have an NBA player sometimes they don’t come every day, they’ll just drop by to take photos and speak to the kids. But then you’ve got Phil who’s actually involved in the drill or the game with these kids every day.” As the camp continues to grow, they would like it to be one of the best in DFW and eventually the nation. “[We want] the best kids in Dallas and the best kids around the country to be able to come here and give them what other elite camps offer. We really see that happening in the very near future.” The camp started with only 30 campers but it has grown to 95. “It’s outstanding to have a camp out here having that many kids. But at the end of the day, the goal is to make sure the kids are getting something out of it and having fun at the same time.”
Pressey grew up attending over 50 basketball camps and understands how beneficial they can be to a player’s skills and confidence. Pressey says, “It’s a good chance for kids to come out and really show what they have been working on and show how good they have gotten...A lot of kids get to meet kids they would probably never see if it wasn't for basketball camp, so new friendships are formed as well.” With his camp, Pressey hopes to leave players with a positive outlook on basketball and teach them skills they can apply to their game and practice after camp ends. Pressey doesn't have to be here every summer, he could be focusing on his game. But he loves coaching and giving back “because that’s all that it takes is for one kid to see what I did for them and in five or ten years maybe they will do the same thing.”
Pressey is also leaving an impact on Henderson’s current varsity players who are helping run the camp. Henderson says, “They have gotten better based on their work, but they have also gotten better based on their attitude because they are seeing what it takes [to coach]. Pressey’s advice to those student athletes is “just stay the course. Don’t get frustrated because with sports there will always be downs. Stay positive continue to work and never doubt yourself.” At 5’11” Pressey has faced some criticism himself, but his mindset has always been to never give up. “It doesn't matter how big you are. It all comes from within... It’s all about heart. If you don't put heart in whatever you do then you're not going to be successful.” Pressey will continue to work hard this summer and spend time with his family as he prepares himself for the upcoming NBA season as a free agent.