M bball: Tatum holds Sweet 16 camp

By Gus Bode

Some former Salukis returned to Carbondale to help with Jamaal Tatum’s Sweet 16 Camp Sunday, while current Salukis were there participating.

Junior forward Randal Falker was at the Student Recreation Center playing basketball with the kids in attendance, losing every game of knockout he played in.

“I thought about it and I wanted to get my teammates back and get back and see everything, see all the people in the community. And then I wanted a way to get the kids out, all the supporters out who have supported Saluki basketball throughout the years and especially this year, and I figured this would be the best way to do it.” – Jamaal Tatum, SIU senior guard

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“It’s all good. I mean, it’s great for somebody to be able to say they beat you and they put you out of the game,” Falker said. “You never know what that can do.”

SIU coach Chris Lowery, sophomore guard Wesley Clemmons and departing senior center Kobby Acquah were there in addition to former Salukis Darren Brooks, Stetson Hairston, Kyle Smithpeters, Bryan Turner and Kent Williams.

Former Saluki Jermaine Dearman was supposed to be at the camp but sustained a concussion earlier in the week and was unable to attend.

Tatum said he had numerous motives in starting the camp, which he plans to make a yearly event.

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“I thought about it and I wanted to get my teammates back and get back and see everything, see all the people in the community,” Tatum said. “And then I wanted a way to get the kids out, all the supporters out who have supported Saluki basketball throughout the years and especially this year, and I figured this would be the best way to do it.

“It worked out well. I had all my teammates back, I had Stetson, Darren, all those guys, Kent, all those guys came back and it was good to have them here,” he said. “I’m sure the fans and the community really appreciate it. I’m sure the kids really appreciate it and the main thing is this: The kids had a fun time.”

Brooks, who spent the last season with the Perth Wildcats of Australia’s National Basketball League, said he’s planning a camp similar to Tatum’s at Jennings Junior High School in Jennings, Mo.

Tatum said the element of friendship was the driving force of him inviting his former teammates back and them agreeing to help out at the camp.

“It was kind of one of those things that I was close friends with all of these guys and just like they would do anything for me, I would do anything for them,” Tatum said. “So if they had any event, I would be there, too. I think I’m actually going to be at something Darren’s having. Good friends always look out for each other and that’s all it was.”

Williams, who has been the supervisor of basketball operations at Purdue the past two seasons, said Tatum called him during Selection Sunday on March 11 and they had been in contact throughout the rest of the season.

“We talked for a little bit and we rapped for a while and he said, ‘I got a camp coming up,’ and he didn’t have to ask me twice,” Williams said. “I’m willing to help, I’m willing to come back to the community and help any way I can. I’ve had so much done for me here in my four years, so I definitely want to give back to these kids.”

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