Damian Lillard’s New ‘Formula Zero’ Camp On Passing On Lessons Learned To Potential Stars Of Tomorrow

Damian Lillard thanks his coaches, mentors, family and friends for guiding him on his path from Oakland, Calif. to the NBA.

Now he’s sharing the lessons he’s learned along the way with a select group of 40 high school and college basketball players as part of a camp he developed called Formula Zero.

“Formula” refers to the combination of influences that helped develop the Portland Trail Blazers six-time All-Star and “Zero” refers to his jersey number.

The first year of his camp began Thursday at the Beaverton Hoop YMCA and ends Saturday. On Friday, Lillard explained the origin and message of his camp, which features key people from different parts of his life as coaches and mentors.

“The reason we named it Formula Zero is because it’s something that we discovered to be a formula only from things that I collected or obtained from many people throughout my life. “, said Lillard. “People who coached me, people who just impacted my life, or shared something with me or pushed me to be a certain way, do certain things that I don’t. didn’t understand on my own.”

Lillard said the spark for the camp idea came a few years ago when his longtime coach Phil Beckner encouraged him to become more vocal and share more of his experiences during off-season training at Weber State, including Blazers guard Anfernee Simons and Phoenix forward Mikal Bridges. .

“It got to the point where Phil was like, ‘You gotta share more,'” Lillard said.

Lillard initially refused because he didn’t want to give the impression that he knew everything. But after spending time thinking about it, Lillard said he saw value in passing on what he had learned from others.

It took a few years to develop the camp, Lillard said, because he wanted to do it the right way.

Camp coaches who have been instrumental in Lillard’s life include: Raymond Young, who has coached Lillard at the AAU since college. Chris Farr, who trained Lillard as a child and through the 2012 NBA draft process. Beckner, a renowned basketball coach who has worked with Lillard since joining Weber State. And former Blazers assistant coach David Vanterpool.

“These are formula people,” Lillard said. “People who touched me in a way that made me what you know. I’m just a product of those people.

Bridges, Simons and former Blazers Evan Turner and Chris Kaman also attended camp.

The camp includes many elite recruits, including David Castillo, a five-star guard from Bartlesville High School in Oklahoma; Jamari Phillips, a five-star goaltender from Modesto Christian in Oakland, Calif.; Simeon Wilcher, a five-star goaltender from Roselle Catholic High School in New Jersey; Dedan Thomas Jr., a four-star guard from Liberty High School in Nevada; and Zoom Diallo, a four-star guard from Curtis Senior High School in Washington.

Lillard said that while many campers have the ability to potentially reach the NBA, he wants them to learn lessons that could help them stay there longer and prepare them for other aspects of their lives.

“It won’t be your talent or your ability because everyone has it,” Lillard said. “It will be your character, the work ethic, the way you treat people, how coachable you are, how selfless you are, how humble you are, how disciplined you are. It’s all of these things that have pushed me to be like this by different people throughout my life.

To drive home those points, Lillard said he wanted attendees to see him more as someone who learned from his mistakes rather than a star athlete who figured it all out.

“I want them to feel connected to me because of who I am,” he said. “And I hope it influences them in a way that makes them better off and makes life easier for their parents.”

Beckner said Lillard’s level of discipline helped him succeed and coaches at the camp wanted to influence players to adopt the same level of commitment.

“We have phenomenal college and high school players here, kids that he’s going to play against in a few years,” Beckner said. “And we want to give them the truth. The good, the bad, the ugly, whatever.

— Aaron Fentress | afentress@Oregonian.com | @AaronJFentress (Twitter), @AaronJFentress (Instagram), @AaronFentress (Facebook).

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