LAKEWOOD RANCH — Marcus Liberty needed to find an edge.
The Chicago native realized early on that to reach his full potential as a player and achieve his goals, he needed to separate himself from those around him.
Liberty focused on improving. He spent every day on the court practicing, repeating the same fundamentals until they became habit.
He attended basketball camps and clinics with hopes of learning from individuals who shared the same goals and dreams. One of those camps was a skills camp hosted by former NBA player Melvyn Davis. At it, Liberty learned how to be a better dribbler and ball-handler, which ultimately turned him into a better all-around player.
“I still remember everything he taught me,” Liberty says. “What they teach you, it’s up to you to do it on your own. Once you’ve mastered it, then you can go on to the next step.”
Now, The Out-of-Door Academy basketball coach and former NBA player hopes to share his knowledge of the game with local up-and-coming players.
Liberty will host his first Liberty Edge Youth Basketball Performance Clinic July 11 and July 12, at ODA.
The clinic, which is open to all players ages 10 to 18, will be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cost is $175 for individuals who register prior to July 10 and $225 at the door. Liberty hopes to have at least 50 children attend the clinic. Youth players from as far as Chicago are expected to participate.
“We want to make this available to all kids,” says Liberty, who also seeks donations and sponsorships. “This is an opportunity for (young) players to hear Dick Vitale speak and train with top-notch people.”
During the clinic, players will rotate through a series of four stations, focusing on how to get open, shooting, ball-handling and other fundamentals. ODA trainer Rod Miller also will be on-hand to teach players about nutrition, as well as proper lifting techniques and plyometrics.
“This is unique (training) that you won’t really get until college,” Liberty says.
In addition, Lakewood Ranch resident and ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale will be on hand July 11 to speak to participants about the “game of life.” Former Orlando Magic shooting guard Nick Anderson, who played with Liberty on the University of Illinois team that reached the NCAA Final Four in 1989 and is the second all-time leading scorer in Magic history, also will speak to and work with players.
“We’re bringing together something special,” Liberty says. “No one else is doing anything like this. Hopefully, this will be the start of something great.
“I want them to have someone in their life who guides and helps them, too,” Liberty says. “I always tell kids that I’m here for them. I don’t think I’m better than anyone else. I’m touchable even though I played in the NBA.”
Liberty plans to hold additional performance clinics in the future. He hopes the next one will be held this winter in conjunction with the start of basketball season.
Additionally, Liberty hopes to start a local youth basketball league for younger players in the community.
“This is the start of a lot of things,” Liberty says. “We’ll see what happens in the near future.”
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].