Friday, May 30, 2008

Billmeier & Nardi Skills Camp 2008

Grant Billmeier and Mike Nardi were two fine Big East basketball players in the 21st century. Nardi was a part of the Villanova team that made a fantastic run to the Elite Eight of the 2006 NCAA Tournament. Billmeier was a two-year captain at Seton Hall. The two attended St. Patrick's (NJ) at the same time and played under one of America's best high school basketball coaches, Kevin Boyle. This summer, Nardi and Billmeier will be coming together after a year of professional ball overseas to run a basketball skills camp in Pennington, New Jersey at Timberlane Middle School. The event will run from July 28 to August 1 and will take place from 9:00am to 3:00pm daily, though campers can be dropped off at 8:00am for no extra charge on top of the $275 camp fee. Grant's brother, Brad Billmeier, a former standout at Hopewell Valley (NJ) who went on to play at Gettysburg College, will also be helping out. The camp will be for boys entering grades four through nine, and food will be provided for those in attendance. There will hopefully be a number of big names that stop by the camp, as guest speakers will be a part of the event. "As of right, it’s [Villanova Head] Coach [Jay] Wright and [Rutgers Head] Fred Hill. They have said that they are going to come down for the camp. . . . I now that [St. Patrick's Head Coach] Kevin Boyle was going to [come as well]. . . . Right now, I’m working on having Randy Foye [who is currently on the Minnesota Timberwolves] come down,” said Nardi of who expects to fill the roles of guest speakers. The ex-Villanova Wildcat did say that “this stuff is not written in stone. . . . College coaches do get busy, and stuff does pop up.” Assuming Hill is able to attend the camp, Nardi expects him to talk about "a couple stories on when he watched Larry Bird work out,” amongst others things. As for Boyle: “I know Kevin will definitely talk about . . . Grant [and I] and what we did in high school.” To sum it up, Nardi told me that “everybody will talk about their experiences with basketball and their knowledge.” Despite the big names that will hopefully be in attendance at Nardi and Billmeier's camp, their goal is not for it to be a huge camp right away said Nardi, who shed some light on the camp's goals for the summer of 2008: “For this first year, we’re just trying to get kids in there, all levels of kids. . . . [There are already camps for] soccer, lacrosse [and other sports]. . . . We’re just trying to get a basketball camp going, . . . and also try to make it fun for them, because nowadays there’s not as many serious basketball players. . . . [We will be] keeping it fun and keeping it structured for the kids. . . . We have to think about the age group. we’re going from fourth to ninth grade. . . Guy that are going to come in, have fun, and also love the game.” That brings up the question of how the duo would deal with a player with little to no experience with basketball, and that is something that I asked Grant about: “We’ll just continue to work with him. Hopefully he’ll just continue to get better. . . . Hopefully by the end of the camp . . . he’ll have gone to a new level.” Grant, who went to The Pennington School (NJ) as a freshman, said that he chose to have the camp located in Pennington because he “ just thought it was a great way to give back," adding, "I know my basketball beginning started in fourth grade at the YMCA. . . . I'm not sure if there’s really a camp in this area that really works on trying to get kids better.” I inquired of Nardi how the mix between scrimmages and drills would work: “It’s going to be a mix of both [scrimmages and drills. On] a regular day we’ll probably start out with stations and drills, . . . just breaking down the game in little parts so they can get a feel for college workouts," and in addition saying, "After that, we’ll have sessions of games, . . . and [in] the afternoon we’ll have games, . . . and the teams that aren’t playing we will probably have [doing] drills, and probably mix in some knockout.” Clearly, the focus is not on having kids running around bouncing basketballs, but rather on them enhancing their skills. In fact, helping players enhance skills is something that Grant Billmeier hopes to do in the future as well: “When I’m doing playing, I definitely want to get into coaching, . . . start at the college level as an assistant and hopefully work my way up to the head coach." Nardi and Billmeier wil likely work well together, as the former said that he "and Grant, we’ve been best friends since high school." As for why the two chose to run a camp together, Nardi said this: "Basically, it’s our first year of being professional [players] and we just wanted to so some basketball stuff.” The pair will definitely involved in the basketball workouts: “[Grant and I] are basically running the camp. We’ll be interacting with the kids, running stations, . . . mainly coaching and doing drills with the kids. . . . We’re not trying to just use our names and then have guys with no experience running drills,” said Mike. Grant mentioned that for drills, the two will "definitely come up with everything [they] do together.” Billmeier, who stands 6'10, realizes that “Most kids we’ll get are generally going to be guards, [so] . . . most things we’ll do are going to be ball handling [and] breaking down a shooter." Although right now the camp is meant as a local event for kids who just want to play basketball and meet some big names along the way, I asked Nardi about whether or not he wants the camp to develop into a big-time event: “Over the years , anything can happen, . . .but for the first year we’re not trying to go out and press people . . . We’re really just focusing on keeping it simple right now. . . . If it does turn into something like that, . . . great.” Grant Billmeier and Mike Nardi, with the help of Brad Billmeier, appear to be heavily invested in this camp and really want to make it work. Thus, it should be a good experience for young ballers who want have some fun and hone their skills along the way. For more information on the Billmeier & Nardi Skills Camp 2008, either call (609)-462-8412, e-mail, or check out

Note- camp and player information is from the camp's brochure

Note- photo on the left side is of Mike Nardi, and is from

Note- photo on the right is of Grant Billmeier, and is from

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