There was a time when Souleymane Wane was in the national basketball spotlight. Those times have passed, but he took what he learned in those days and brought it to the Roudenbush Community Center this summer.
During the first week of August, he held an comprehensive all-day basketball camp for half a dozen middle schoolers here in Westford, building upon more limited camps he held at Roudenbush in earlier years.
Wayne, a former center on the University of Connecticut’s national championship-winning teams in the late 90s, played professionally overseas until 2006 before returning to New England where he eventually served as an assistant coach at UMass Lowell and now as a teacher in Haverhill, where he heads that school’s junior varsity team.
Roudenbush Community Education Director Ellen Wright recalls Wayne’s first visits to Roudenbush in 2011 after friends had told him of the space.
For several weeks, he had rented the gym space to practice and she saw him later at UMass Lowell. From there, she convinced him to direct camps at the facility and the rest is history.
Wright believes that the compact time frame of just one week have yielded greater dividends than Wayne’s earlier Roudenbush camps, where students would come for one night a week over several weeks.
“It’s pretty intensive because of the Monday through Friday schedule,” she said. “The kids really picked up on things due to the repetition and they’re able to use those skills right away.”
One of those players was Nick Amadeo, a 10-year-old who plays locally and has attended other camps.
However, he thinks this camp is the best he’s attended so far.
“Souleymane is the best, he really focuses on the drills,” said Amadeo. “Thanks to him, I can dribble without looking at the ball.”
Wane’s played a role as an instructor at other camps outside of Roudenbush throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire, but his hopes are high that this week-long camp will grow into something larger over upcoming years.
“This camp has been a lot smaller since the gym is small, but everything takes awhile to grow,” he said. “This time we have half a dozen, next time we’ll have ten. We’ll get there.”