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CK legends mentor boys’ summer camp

Golden State Warriors scout Speedy Claxton during the Christ the King Royals boys' basketball camp. Photo by Denis Gostev
TimesLedger Newspapers

The moment you walk through Christ the King’s doors, it’s impossible not to be swept up by the school’s prestigious basketball history.

Three decades worth of newspaper clippings, trophies and photographs are on display featuring the program’s elite talents.

And a few of the legends came to life last week.

Golden State Warriors scout Speedy Claxton and former NBA point guard Erick Barkley took time out of their busy schedules to serve as coaches at the Christ the King Royals boys’ basketball camp.

“It makes the camp incredible,” Christ the King Coach and athletic director Joe Arbitello said. “A very good camp goes to another level. It does a lot for these kids.”

Coincidentally, the camp drew a record 304 kids this week, though none of them knew they would be joined by Christ the King royalty. After getting clearance from the NBA, Claxton jumped at the opportunity to give back to his alma mater.

“This is where I got my start at,” he said.

He’s made a point of stressing fundamentals this week, playing the game the right way and taking it seriously.

“You never know when opportunity will present itself,” Claxton said.

Claxton and Barkley’s presence isn’t only beneficial to the campers, but also the Royals’ current players, Arbitello said. They have first-hand experience of what big-time Division I basketball is all about, and can impart that knowledge on Christ the King’s top prospects, such as Jon Severe, Jordan Fuchs and Adonis Delarosa. Claxton, for example, has talked to Fuchs about how difficult it will be to play two sports — he wants to try his hand at football and basketball at the next level.

Claxton would like to get into coaching and has spoken with a few teams about the possibility down the road. For now, he’s happy scouting.

Claxton has thoroughly enjoyed his sojourn into scouting. Because he played at Hofstra, he didn’t get to play many of the nation’s top programs, but as Golden State’s east coast college scout, Claxton has gotten the opportunity to attend games courtside at Cameron Indoor Stadium and the Dean Dome, among many others.

“I get to see them now and experience the atmosphere,” Claxton said. “You still get to stay close to the game and I was a big college basketball fan.”

The former Hofstra star and seven-year NBA veteran who won a title with the San Antonio Spurs in 2003 landed at Christ the King because of the camp. It was the summer before his freshman year of high school and Claxton was playing in a local league at nearby Hoffman Park that included the Royals’ freshman team.

“He was killing me,” recalled Arbitello, who played on the same 1995 city championship team as Claxton, Barkley and NBA veteran Lamar Odom. “I couldn’t stay in front of him. Everybody was saying, ‘Wow, this kid is good.’”

Through that, Claxton was invited to the camp, put on a show — “I think I worked it out so I didn’t have to guard him,” Arbitello joked — and was convinced to attend the Middle Village school.

“If I didn’t come to camp, I wouldn’t have come to this school and who knows where I would’ve gone,” Claxton said.

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