Long before any of the current Fighting Camels student-athletes were alive, Campbell University was known as an ideal destination for kids striving to be great in the game of basketball.
The heralded Campbell Basketball camp, located at the historic Carter Gym right on campus, hosted players and coaches that were not only big names then but have developed into basketball icons.
The Campbell Magazine created an excellent seven-part feature crafting the now 60-year-old story of the Campbell Basketball Camp. Here is the official introduction to the piece, setting the stage for what developed into the nation’s first basketball school.
Every June, for a span of about 30 years beginning in 1956, Campbell College and its unimpressive Carter Gymnasium was the center of the basketball universe.
The brainchild of Campbell coach Fred McCall, the nation’s first summer camp dedicated to round-ball fundamentals had humble beginnings, attracting about 150 kids in its first year. At its peak, Campbell Basketball School was a three-week adventure that brought in more than 2,000 kids, in addition to the biggest names the sport had to offer.
John Wooden, the greatest coach of all time.“Pistol Pete” Maravich, the greatest showman of all time.Michael Jordan, the greatest player of all time. The list goes on. You could build an impressive Hall of Fame using it alone.
From the players that first stepped on campus to the stories surrounding the basketball Wizard himself, Hall of Fame coach John Wooden, along with the legend connecting Campbell to the great offensive talent “Pistol Pete” Maravich, much of the basketball world still recognizes Buies Creek for its incredible camps.
“The counselor games at night … we had the entire community coming to see these games,” Whitfield said, recalling games that included mega-stars like Virginia’s Ralph Sampson, UNC’s James Worthy and Clyde Austin, Sidney Lowe and Hawkeye Whitney of N.C. State. “I took these games seriously. All the Campbell players took them seriously, at least more than the ACC players. This was our opportunity to gauge just how good we really were, as opposed to how good we thought we were.” -Said Campbell alum Fred Whitfield