Big Man CampWill it stay or will it go?
Lopes is negotiating with UNLV
to bring the college part there
By Cindy Luis
Hall of Fame coach Pete Newell said he hasn't made a decision on whether to bring his Big Man Camp back to Hawaii for a 10th time. However, discussions are under way to move the collegiate portion to Las Vegas.
Retired Chaminade coach Merv Lopes, the camp coordinator, said yesterday he was negotiating to put the college session in the new 3,000-seat Cox Pavilion on the UNLV campus.
"The pros tell me that they can go to Vegas anytime and that they love coming to Hawaii," said Lopes. "But the cost for the college players to come is becoming a real factor. More and more players want to come and we don't have the staff to support it here. For the most part, the staff is unpaid with some help in expenses."
One problem for the staff is that the same coaches are running both sessions daily, 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 1-4 p.m. After a humid workout with the NBA players yesterday morning at Kekuhaupi'o Gym, the college players were let out more than 30 minutes ahead of schedule.
Lopes said he would like to see the state help with funding for the camp, creating more of an event such as happened with the NFL Pro Bowl and Pro Bowl Experience. The camp has a number of local sponsors that helps defray costs from hotel rooms to bus transportation to apparel.
"Maybe $50,000," said Lopes. "It doesn't have to be much, but it could be a real boost for Hawaii to keep it here. The college part is gone, but I hope we can keep the NBA part here."
Newell said Hawaii is a second home to him and that he's in a wait-and-see mode about coming back next year. However, according to BasketballTimes.com, Newell said he was "99 percent sure that this will be my last NBA camp."
Newell, the first to coach a team to NIT, NCAA and Olympic championships, will turn 87 later this month.
This year's 25th edition has the largest-ever number of pro and college basketball players (72) and "it's been good so far," Newell said. "I've seen more fan interest this year. Overall, this group of NBA players is very young, the youngest we've had, with a lot of rookies. It's good."
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