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Former Buckeye Lauderdale Brings a Positive Message For Kids

(Photo credit - Phil Sandlin - AP)
Former Ohio State basketball player Dallas Lauderdale attended basketball camps as a youngster growing up in Solon, Ohio. The problem was he didn’t stop growing, and before long, he was considered too big to play against normal-sized kids. Camp organizers turned him into an instructor instead, and the love of helping kids with their basketball skills has been with him ever since.

Lauderdale, who played four years for Thad Matta’s Buckeyes (2007-08 through 2010-11),  is returning to his hometown next month to put on a 5-day camp for area boys and girls ages 8-16. He reached out to some local sports media people this week to help him get the word out, and EHC is glad to be a part of that effort.

Direction Up

Lauderdale has built on his early basketball camp experiences by helping out at similar events at Ohio State whenever he had the time. At this point, he says he’s got it in his blood. “I always had fun watching them have fun.” And now he says it’s time to start a camp of his own.

Lauderdale’s specialty on the court was rejection - the 6’ 8”, 260 lb. center led the Big Ten in blocks and blocks per game his junior year in Columbus - but the message of his camp will be relentlessly positive. “DirectionUP” is the theme, and Lauderdale told me by phone this week that he intends to stress fun and encouragement to the campers, and emphasize a positive frame of mind in all areas of their lives.

“It’s more than just a basketball camp,” he said. “I want kids to leave with a mentality and a mindset of having a positive outlook on everything. I want them to keep a Direction Up mentality with things on the court and with things off the court, whether it’s the next homework assignment, the next test, or the next day. Whatever it is, you’ve got to move on and stay positive, and that’s the message I want to convey to the kids.

“Our youth are the future….I’m know I’m saying that like I’m an old man...I’m only 26...but they really are our future. If I get 200 kids in here and I affect 25 of them positively, I’ll count that as a win.”

Camp Details

The DirectionUp camp for boys and girls ages 8-16 will be held June 15-19 (Mon-Fri) from 10:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m.

The Solon Community Center
35000 Portz Pkwy.
Solon, OH 44139

The cost is $250.00, and campers can register online at dallaslauderdale.com. Additional information is available by emailing: directionupbasketballcamp@gmail.com or by calling 440-836-3422.

What Goes On

Lauderdale says campers will work on fundamentals in the morning, but as he says, “everybody likes to play,” so the afternoon sessions will feature some scrimmaging, as well as some old basketball favorites like Hot Shot or Knockout contests.

The promotional material for the DirectionUp camp promises “Guest Appearances by NBA and International Athletes” but Lauderdale was reluctant to name specific players that will be in attendance. For one thing, these players’ schedules are fluid, and he doesn’t want to promise in advance what he can’t deliver. And secondly, he wants kids coming to his camp for all the right reasons, not necessarily because some celebrity will be there.

Lauderdale plans to rely on his many Solon area contacts to help out with the instruction. “Solon has been so good to me,” he says,”that this is my way of giving something back. I want to give the high school coaches a chance to see some of the kids they might be coaching in a few years."

His goal is to make this an annual affair, perhaps even scheduling it twice a year in the summer eventually, depending on the response to this initial event.

The Dallas Lauderdale File

Lauderdale played four seasons with the Buckeyes, (in the same class with David Lighty, Jon Diebler and Evan Turner). Perhaps his best season was his junior year, when he averaged 6.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game as the Buckeyes went 29-8, won the Big Ten regular season title and the Big Ten Tournament, and then advanced to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA’s, only to lose a 76-73 heartbreaker to Tennessee in the regional semis.

As noted above, he was 1st in the Big Ten in blocks and blocks per game that 2009-10 season, but he also led the Big Ten and the entire NCAA in 2-point field goal percentage at .773. His senior season, the Buckeyes (34-3) again won the Big Ten regular season and conference tournament, and again advanced to the Sweet 16 round, only to fall once again, this time 62-60 to Kentucky.

After finishing at OSU in 2011, Lauderdale signed a one-year contract with Turow Zgorzelec of the Polish Basketball League. He joined the Portland Trail Blazers for the 2013 NBA Summer League season, and in September of last year, he signed with the NBA Charlotte Hornets.

Lauderdale was sidelined with a foot injury, and underwent reconstructive surgery on the foot in November. He has been living in Columbus during his rehabilitation, with the goal of eventually returning to play in the NBA.

But for one week in June, he’s coming home to Solon for the first of what we can hope is a long run for his camp. After talking to Dallas this week, I’m convinced this is a project worthy of the support of the whole community, and we here at EHC wish him well.


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