East Tennessee State schooled opponents for four straight years while going to the NCAA Tournament (1989-92), and many of those former Buccaneers will help teach youngsters the game at the ETSU Glory Days camp Friday and Saturday at David Crockett.
New David Crockett girls coach Marty Story will be one of the instructors, as will former ETSU players Keith “Mister” Jennings, Greg Dennis, Calvin Talford and James “Pooh” Abrams. David Crockett boys assistant Damon Johnson, who played at Science Hill and Tennessee, will also work the camp.
Story said former ETSU coach Alan LeForce is likely to attend, and he’s hopeful that Rodney English and Chad Keller will get to attend at least one day.
“I was telling my wife (Misty) last night, you know, the good thing about this camp is it’s guys that always respected this community … and never got in trouble, never burnt bridges,” Story said. “It’s not only about a camp, but you’ve got parents wanting their kids to come to you and trusting you and the things you can do for their kids.”
Story said the camp was Abrams’ idea, and he eventually hopes to move it to ETSU’s campus in conjunction with homecoming after the football program is again officially playing.
“He wants it to be part of homecoming and ETSU’s tradition,” Story said. “ As it grows, he wants to bring back more of the players.”
Campers will receive instruction from those who have played in the NBA, overseas and championship teams from the high school and college levels.
“The camp’s about the kids and trying to help them get better,” Jennings said. “And with this group … me and Marty and Calvin and Greg and Pooh and Damon … the kids are gonna get a level of instruction that you’re not gonna get at every basketball camp. You’re getting the whole gambit in a two-day session. And we’re serious about making sure these kids learn and have fun.”
Life hasn’t been this much fun in some time for Story, who got the Crockett girls job last month.
“I wake up every morning and – I eat, sleep and dream basketball,” Story said.
He said the Lady Pioneers went 3-1 in a camp at ETSU last month, beating Swain County (N.C.), Raceland (Ky.) and Cherokee, and losing by single digits to Gate City (Va.).
He’s encouraged by an experienced roster, and noted Kaley Persinger, Kasey Gordon and Chelsea Day being among those having a good summer.
“We can shoot the ball … and it looks like we’re nine or 10 deep,” said Story, who sounds as though he’ll be disappointed if the Lady Pioneers don’t win 15-17 games. “We have five seniors and six juniors. That experience is a formula to win a lot of games.”
Story is already studying the likes of Thomas Walker and Lee High – Southwest Virginia teams that’ll be on a schedule that includes Erwin High School (Asheville) and the Carolinas Invitational in Charleston, South Carolina.
Jennings said Story will have his players prepared and his football background should help translate into mental and physical toughness for Lady Pioneers players.
“Those girls are not gonna get rattled – there’s not gonna be much that’s gonna shake them – if they really listen to Marty,” Jennings said. “I’m glad he’s gonna get a chance to make a statement with this team.”
Story, who initially went to Clemson for football out of Greeneville, was unselfish and happy to do the dirty work on the court, according to Jennings. He recalled an impressive Story spurt early in the second half of a win at Charlotte – a late-night TV game in the 49ers’ Mine Shaft.
“He got a layup and we got a stop and he came down and hit a three,” Jennings said. “Then he got another steal for a dunk. And then he hit another … I wanna say it might’ve been an and-one. He got like nine or 10 straight points.
“It was a Marty Story run like he would give us every now and then. He could’ve given us that more, I believe, but he was the ultimate teammate. He was another one of us that sacrificed.”
One of Story’s favorite accomplishments at ETSU was going 2-0 against Tennessee.
“I always kid my stepson (Noah Morton) because he’s a UT fan, I say, ‘Well, all I can say about me and UT is that I’m 2-0,’” Story said with a chuckle. “I guarded Allan Houston, too. That was a great moment getting to guard that guy.”
Damon Johnson played at Tennessee for two seasons (1994-96). Johnson and former Science Hill teammate Shane Williams helped Tennessee beat ETSU 81-74 in Knoxville in December of ’94 in the second game of the Kevin O’Neill era.
Williams had 15 points and six rebounds and Johnson had eight points and six assists. ETSU got 23 points from Robert Doggett and the Vols were led by Steve Hamer’s 21.
Story and Jennings’ Bucs helped mold players such as Williams and Johnson at Science Hill in pickup games at Carver Rec. Science Hill won a state title in 1990 and finished state runner-up in ’91 — in the middle of ETSU’s NCAA Tournament four-peat.
“We called them the Car Wash Boys,” Jennings said. “Man, those young guys – when I went back to work at Science Hill (in 2008) and I’m looking up at those banners and I’m seeing those years they made a state-championship run or won the state, it was corresponding with us doing our thing in the NCAA Tournament and our conference tournament. We played down at Kiwanis Park a lot on the outside, and Herb (Greenlee) was a sweet guy to let us get in with those guys (at Carver). It was good that we could help make those young guys get better, and they gave us so much love and respect down there that it’s easy to join forces with those guys.”
For more information on the camp call story at 423-202-2110.comments powered by Disqus