The Gene Bess Basketball Camp is back for its first of three week-long summer sessions. NBA talents such as Otto Porter and Ben and Tyler Hansbrough have attended camps in the past. This year, it has a member from as far away as coaches Gene and Brian Bess can remember.
Cobin Harris, a 17-year-old soon-to-be senior in high school came from Maui, Hawaii, 4,061 miles as the crow flies, to attend the first session of the camp.
“It’s unique,” Three Rivers coach Gene Bess said. “He’s about (6-feet, 7-inches), and he’s a good edition to the camp.”
Harris heard about the camp from his stepdad, Justin Rowland, who attended the camp when he was a kid.
“My step-dad told me Gene Bess is one of the best coaches in JUCO history, so I just thought, I’ve got to pick his brain, you know,” Harris said.
Harris is originally from St. Louis. His dad Chad Harris currently lives in Robertsville, Missouri, about 140 miles north of Poplar Bluff, but Harris lives with his mom and stepdad. Harris moved from St. Louis to Atlanta in 2014 and then to Maui last July when his stepdad got a job as the food and beverage director at a hotel.
Harris had some spare time before his Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team plays in Las Vegas in July, so he’s focused on attending various basketball camps and working on his fundamentals for the time being.
“I had about a month, so I was like, I can squeeze in a couple of camps and fly straight out to Vegas from here,” Harris said.
After Harris leaves the Gene Bess Camp, he’ll attend another camp in Oklahoma next week.
So far, the Gene Bess Camp’s focus on fundamentals has been one of his favorite parts.
“Everyone seems really intelligent. I like that. I like the coaching style. I like how it’s really fundamental based. You don’t see that a lot these days, so that’s just good to see that it’s still happening. It’s building blocks on top of building blocks,” Harris said.
On top of coming from the farthest distance of anyone at the camp, Harris is also the only attendee who is in high school.
“It’s interesting. We used to appeal to a lot of high school kids. Now, most of them are out playing travel ball,” Bess said.
Scrimmaging against campers who are so much younger than him allows Harris, who is also the tallest camper at 6-7, to work on his ball handling and passing.
It also allows him to not put too much extra stress on his knee, as he’s dealing with a bit of tendinitis right now, which causes a little bit of soreness in his knee. Still, he said it’s nothing he can’t play through, and he’s been working out with players his age since he’s had it.
“I’m just trying to pass and distribute and get everybody involved as much as much as possible,” Harris said. “Obviously, they’re a lot younger than me and I’m a lot older and taller and bigger and stronger, so I’m just trying to get everyone involved and make everyone better. It’ll help me with my passing and stuff like that, too,” Harris said.
Harris is still trying to pick up a scholarship entering his last year of high school.
“I’m just trying to make my last trip around and see if I can pick up a scholarship before I graduate high school,” Harris said.
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic