For the 26th year, Lee College basketball coach Roy Champagne has spent a busy summer hosting youth basketball camps. All the time spent working in the camps should make for an easier transition to the fall. Turns out, the Rebels will be loaded with newcomers.
Lee College is only returning two players from last season’s team that posted a 13-16 team record and 5-12 mark in conference play. The good news is Champagne expects his team to be much better with an influx of talented freshmen and transfers.
“We have a lot of guards and will only have three bigs,” he said. “We are already much better than last season.
“We are done taking the beatings. How good are we? We will see.”
The process began early this summer. Members of the team also serve as camp counselors. The duty serves a number of purposes and might be considered Rebel Basketball 101. It has been instrumental in serving over 6,300 campers during Champagne’s career.
“To me, this is a good intro for the guys on many levels,” Champagne said. “It gives me an opportunity to see their work ethic and see how they take instructions. They can see how I operate and what I am about. They see their scholarship is about more than between the lines.”
Incoming freshman Max Armer said the camp provides a chance to hang out with new teammates and eat lunch and enjoy team bonding.
“It’s really important because we have new guys coming in each week,” he said.
Camp is particularly special for Armer because it is part of his ‘hoops dreams’ story. Armer’s dad Steve played basketball at Lee College and he attended the camp when he was young. It paid off as he finished last season as one of the best basketball players in Barbers Hill history and an All-State selection.
“I see myself in all these kids,” Armer said. “Competition and break time brings back memories.”
Ashton Kenebrew graduated from Crosby in 2018 and spent last season at East Texas Baptist University.
He opted to move closer to home and play for Champagne this season. The defensive standout also had memories growing up from camp.
“I feel like growing up, every kid’s dream is to play college basketball,” he said. “As the older kids helped me, I want to give back and help.”
In terms of acclimating to the Lee College program, Kenebrew said the chemistry starts with the energy in summer as the teammates start pushing each other. And in camp, the new Rebels see that it is about more than basketball. And they all take their cue from Champagne.
“Every day, you want to work hard no matter what you are doing,” Kenebrew said. “He tries to better us as men. His energy goes a long way. And the kids will remember things he said. I remember the things he said 17 years ago.”