The young man who brought these kids together is North Minneapolis’s own Kammron Taylor, a graduate of North Minneapolis Community High School. At North, Taylor won All Conference three consecutive years (2001, 2002, 2003) All State three years (2001, 2002, 2003) All Metro two years (2002 and 2003), he was a Minnesota State Tournament Participant two times (2002,2003) and a member of the All Tournament Team twice (2002 and 2003). Taylor and the Polars won the Minnesota State Boys Basketball Tournament in 2003, where he also was a Mr. Basketball Finalist. After Taylor finished his career at Minneapolis North, he then attended the University of Wisconsin Madison.
While attending UW-Madison, Taylor was a three-year starter for the Badgers. He was the 15th player in the history of the school to score 1,200 points, and was Big Ten Conference Player of the Week twice. If you are not familiar with college basketball UW-Madison has been a fixture in the Associated Press top 20 Men’s Basketball Polls. Under Taylor’s leadership, the Badgers were 2004 Big Ten Conference Regular Season Champs, and Big Ten Tournament Champs. In the 2005 NCAA National Tournament, Taylor and his Badgers made it all the way to the Elite 8, before losing to the University of North Carolina.
Soon after his success at the UW-Madison, Taylor started trying out for the National Basketball Association. Part of his dream was fulfilled, when his hometown team, Minnesota Timberwolves put him on their 2007 summer league roster. He did’t make the team, but that did not stop or discourage him; “Europe here I come,” said Taylor, after he was not drafted by the Timberwolves in 2007.
While overseas, Taylor adjusted to the European game quickly. In his first year playing for a team in Barcelona Spain, he led all rookies in scoring, averaging 15.5 points per game. The following year, Taylor moved on to a different team, Beirasar Rosalia in Santiago, Spain. In Spain Taylor led the LEB Gold Division one of the top division in Europe, in scoring, averaging 18.5 points per game.
Now that Taylor’s season is over, he is not doing like other players I know. Taylor is working, not just getting up early going to the gym to work on his game; he is up early working with over 150 kids from the Twin Cities area, at his first annual basketball camp. The camps mission is to provide young boys and girls in the Twin Cities area, an enthusiastic and exciting fundamentals-based basketball camp. Did I mention the camp was absolutely free?
Taylor also wanted to touch on some life-skill things as well. Yes life skills! He encouraged the youth to work hard, listen to parents, do well in school, and stay out of bad crowds. “Those were things I did growing up,” he said. “Growing up I didn’t have a lot of close personal friends, because some of the guys I grew up with were always getting in trouble, and doing things they shouldn’t have been. I put myself around people who had dreams and goals similar to mine.”
Taylor told the kids at the camp “use basketball, don’t let basketball use you” meaning that if you work hard enough you can at least have a foundation to be successful, learn how to be a team player, or even earn a scholarship to college. He added, “I feel it is my duty to help the kids in the Twin Cities. When I was young someone in the community helped me out, now it is my turn.”
Taylor didn’t go out and pay a bunch of high-school coaches or professionals to run his camp, he recruited friends of his, people he either played with or played against growing up in Minneapolis. When I walked into the gymnasium I saw the likes of Jamel Staten, a former Minneapolis North and Minnesota State at Mankato standout that is now playing in China; Tamara Moore, former Minneapolis North 1998 Miss Basketball winner, and six-year WNBA and Overseas Pro. Moore also is giving back to the community by hosting the 1st Annual Minneapolis North Mens/Womens Alumni game.
In addition Taylor had some great speakers at his camp. People like former professionals; Trent Tucker, John G. Thomas, Troy Bell, and professional shooting coach to most NBA players Jay Wolfe, and not to be forgotten, his sister Krystal Taylor, who was Camp Director.
A few days after camp was over I called Taylor; he sounded tired like he just got done playing basketball all day, not having much energy. I asked him, how he thought his first camp was? It was quiet at first, then all of sudden, I knew he had that big smile on his face that we all tend to love, and a ton of enthusiasm and said, “Success!!!!! I cannot wait until next year.”
One of the youth campers said: “I have been to many basketball camps in my young days, and by far this camp has been one of the best”.
Twin Cities, the future is bright when you have an up and coming leader like Kammron Taylor looking out for our youth.