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Athletes pitch in to mentor kids

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Moe Deloach, a former basketball player at Northern Nash and Norfolk State, directs campers during Deloach's summer basketball camp Saturday at the South Rocky Mount Community Center.

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BY SAMUEL EVERS
Staff Writer

Monday, June 18, 2018

From its first session in 2011 to its eighth annual rendition on Saturday, which had a registration large enough that the camp was chopped into two age-specific weekend sessions, the free Moe Deloach Summer Basketball Camp, hosted by Rocky Mount native Moe Deloach, always preaches the fundamentals of the sport.

So Deloach, a 2005 Northern Nash graduate and professional basketball player in Italy, ran around like a mad man with a whistle on Saturday trying to teach kids age 5 through 12 how to dribble, slap the ground on defense, shoot layups and drill free throws.

Deloach, who played last season for Eurobasket Roma in Rome and led the league in assists, has been home for a month and plans to head back to Italy in late August. He’s kept busy so far with seeing friends and family and helping out at his new restaurant — Moe and D’s in downtown — but Saturday is a day he looks forward to every year.

“It’s important to do it every year. It keeps growing every year,” Deloach said. “It’s just awesome being here, being in the community and being able to give back. I could be anywhere in the world, and I just decided to come back home and give back because we need the help.”

The camp for both age groups includes pizza at the end and scholarships given out, plus a guest speaker each time. It’s always a notable athlete from the Twin Counties; last year it was Tarboro native and NFL veteran Shaun Draughn. This year it was rising NFL rookie Tyquan Lewis, also a Tarboro High graduate, who was selected in the second round of April’s NFL draft by the Indianapolis Colts.

Lewis spoke to the 100 or so kids for about five minutes, mostly about using athletics as a way to get an education and the importance of seeing what else the country and the world has to offer. He had just arrived Saturday from Indiana, where he was attending the Colts’ minicamp.

“All of them look at me as the OG — the first to do it,” said Deloach, 32, on the professional athletes from the area who have come to speak at his camp. “They respect the situation. It’s just like family, 252 family.”

Another part of the tradition is to bring back former Rocky Mount players who went on to play basketball in college. Saturday was no exception. Among the familiar faces were RMHS grad J’Kyra Brown, who just finished her senior season with Virginia, and Northern Nash’s Darius Spragley, who was the Telegram’s 2017 All-Area player of the year.

He just wrapped up his first year playing at Mount Olive and was there on Saturday to help out a camp and a community center he used to go to.

“I’ve known Moe for a while,” Spragley said. “I always knew he played overseas. I knew he was good at ball. He’s like an older brother to me. I’ve been coming here and to South Rocky Mount (Community Center) since I was little, before it was even remodeled. I do anything I can to help out.”

Deloach’s stint with Roma ended this past season after a two-year deal he signed in 2016. Right now, he said, he’s a free agent and in negotiation with three other Italian teams about a possible contract. He expects to finalize a deal soon.

“I love being there. Love the fanbase. That’s like their NBA over there,” he said. “It’s starting to build more and more and more because of social media and the way basketball is blowing up. It’s perfect for me.”

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