By Josh Cohen
July 20, 2017
ORLANDO — For children looking to improve on the hardwood or simply have fun with the game they love and are passionate about, signing up for any Orlando Magic Youth Basketball Academy camp presented by UnitedHealthcare is a wise decision.
Boys and girls ranging from 7 to 16 years old are provided expert instruction from The National Basketball Academy and there are many other perks just for registering for a summer camp, including receiving a ticket to a Magic home game during the upcoming season. Goodies such as a camp t-shirt, a Magic bag and team wristband are also handed out to the children.
Occasionally, unimaginable surprises happen as well.
A special visitor helped make this week’s Magic basketball camp at the Orange County Rec Center at Meadow Woods Park an experience none of the kids attending will ever forget.
Jonathan Isaac, the Magic’s first round draft pick last month, showed up unannounced on Thursday and joined the coaches in teaching the summer campers a thing or two about the game.
“It’s super special, these kids look up to guys like us and it’s the least we can do,” Isaac said.
As you would expect because of Isaac’s nearly 7-foot tall stature and spiky, high-rising hairstyle, it didn’t take long for the kids to realize the significance of who just walked in the gym.
The athletic and versatile forward ran some skills and drills, participated in a Q&A with the youth, took a group photo and signed autographs.
It wasn’t long ago that Isaac was in the same spot as these kids. Considering he’s only 19 years old and despite being substantially taller than anyone else there, it felt at times like he was one of the campers. Isaac prides himself on being a student of the game and is always attentive to basketball instruction.
After moving to Naples, Fla. from Bronx, N.Y. at age 10, Isaac rose up to five-star status and became one of the most highly-touted recruits before deciding on Florida State.
He’s aware of how crucial youth coaches and offseason training is for young players hoping to follow in his footsteps. It was during his high school time that Isaac began to take the game seriously, which coincided with his growth spurt and deep adoration for the sport.
More than anything else, though, Isaac wants everyone who plays the game to enjoy themselves and not be overwhelmed by outside pressures.
“The one message I want to relay that’s really big to me is just to have fun,” he emphasized. “Sometimes we put too much on their plates. They’re just trying to have fun.”
It’s already been a busy summer for Isaac, who played in three games during the Orlando Pro Summer League and averaged 10.3 points and 8.0 rebounds. A minor hip injury sidelined him for the the Magic’s final two games of the tournament.
He says he’s fully healed and now he’s slowly getting back into his training routine.
Isaac really appreciates the opportunity to assist in the community and he’s looking forward to integrating himself even more in the near future.
“It’s something that is super important to me and it’s super important to the Magic,” he said. “This is great that it’s the first thing I get to do because I’ve only been here for a short amount of time but it’s great. I love kids and I love to give back.”