Coach’s “Jamal Clinics” build young athletes

Nate Bottiger, Staff Writer

When the Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach Jamal Palmer came to Pitt-Johnstown, he noticed one thing that was missing from the area’s basketball community: there were not enough camps for young athletes.

Palmer, who has just completed his third season as an assistant coach at Pitt-Johnstown, played for and was graduated from Division II Millersville University (Lancaster, Pa.).

Palmer then played professional basketball in England, Luxembourg and Finland before trading in his jersey for a suit and tie.

In his time playing, Palmer said there were always workouts and camps available to him and anyone who wanted to put in extra time improving.

Palmer said this is not exactly what he found in Johnstown, and that is what inspired him to help high school students better their playing skills.

Palmer said he attended open gyms where high school athletes were scarce, and were attended more often by those who had already graduated from high school.

The clinic that Palmer is to run has been accepted by Athletic Director Pat Pecora, and is to begin in early April, depending on marketing results.

The clinic is scheduled to be once a week for three hours, supervised and run by Palmer.

He said he may get some assistance from past and present Pitt-Johnstown players.

Palmer said 2009 graduate William Sharpe may help out with the guards who go to the clinic.

Palmer listed senior Patrick Grubbs and junior Nick Novak as possible Pitt-Johnstown players who might also help.

The players Palmer listed have all been given first team all-conference honors, along with other accolades during their careers.

Palmer said he and Grubbs most likely will help forwards with their post offense and defense, and Novak will help Sharpe with guards.

Novak said the clinic will consist of drills and game play that will help improve technique and improve judgments of in-game situations.

He said the game play will help because it pits high school students against players with more experience.

Novak said he is uncertain of the clinic’s effects on the Johnstown area basketball community, but hopes the clinic receives a good turnout in order to get high school players interested in improving and moving on to play college basketball.

He also said that, because this is one of the only universities in the area, and because it is Division II, people will know that the clinic is a good opportunity.

“If we market it correctly, there should be a good turnout.”

Palmer said the Johnstown area also needs a summer league, but said he is taking things one step at a time.

“I’m just excited about getting something going here.”