A month after Coastal Crew Rebels basketball player Isaiah Scott was invited to the National Phenom Camp, two of his teammates received the same honor.
According to the Rebels’ seventh grade coach Simon Steele, his son, Simon Steele Jr., and Jaleel Gilbert earned invitations to the camp in San Diego, Calif., next July. They got the invites at a regional camp Oct.12-13 in South Carolina.
Coach Steele said the boys went through a series of drills for the first three hours of the camp, focusing on fundamentals. Later, the boys were evaluated on how they played in a game setting.
“They played three games and these two ended up on different teams and competing against each other,” Steele said. “They were also placed with kids they didn’t know and have never played together before, and they had to show that they could hold their own and play fundamental basketball, and each one of them played exceptional.”
The coach said Gilbert’s recognition was overdue. He said before playing for the Rebels, Gilbert played for the South Georgia Kings and was selected twice as tournament MVP during the summer at two different national tournaments.
“So it wasn’t a fluke,” Steele said. “He is one of the most talented seventh graders we have in this community and in Southeast Georgia because of his versatility and what he can do on the court. But he had never been recognized for his accomplishments individually.”
Gilbert’s father, Steve Gilbert, said his son started playing at age 5. “To see him get recognized in that manner is a great accomplishment,” Steve Gilbert said.
Steele said his son started playing in the Liberty County Recreation Department in fourth grade.
“As a father, I was extremely excited and I haven’t stopped smiling since,” Steele said. “But as a coach, I was also excited because not only did my son make it, but another child from my team made it as well.”
The boys are also excited.
“It was good that I trained and worked hard and then finally got recognized,” Simon Steele Jr. said. “It is my favorite sport ... I do like other sports, but I have more fun playing basketball.”
“It’s a really fun sport,” Gilbert said. “And it’s not just about strength, you have to have speed and know what to do when you get the ball.”