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ROD VEAL, OCVARSITY.COM
Former Woodbridge High star Austin Daye plays with some of the kids attending his second annual basketball camp on Wednesday at Irvine High.

Press Box: NBA's Daye holds camp in Irvine

More than 100 kids get a chance to work out with and learn from the former Woodbridge basketball standout.

OCVARSITY.COM

Austin Daye returned to familiar grounds Wednesday, not letting the NBA lockout put a damper on his second annual basketball camp.

Daye, now in his third year with the Detroit Pistons, provided tips on the game along with other coaches at Irvine High, where he had his share of success playing basketball for Woodbridge.

Daye was named to the Register's All-County team in 2007 after averaging 30.9 points and 12.4 rebounds his senior year.

The camp was held at Irvine in a new gym next to the one Daye played in for Woodbridge when it played Irvine. The Woodbridge gym was not available because of construction.

Nearly 100 youngsters, ages 5-14, showed up and seemed enthused about the presence of the 6-11 Daye, the Pistons' first round pick out of Gonzaga in 2007.

"We've had a lot of kids here, more than last year," Daye said. "I'm not really trying to teach certain skills. I just want to help them play the game of basketball a little better and provide a little more knowledge of the game."

Many of the youngsters wanted to know if Daye knew Kobe Bryant.

Daye definitely does, having gone up against him on the court the past two seasons.

"He's probably the best player in the league," Daye said. "I'm always playing against great players every night."

Daye has also played against other NBA stars like LeBron James of the Heat.

"I worked out with him a couple weeks ago and he's a very hard worker," Daye said. "Him and Miami with Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade are going to be a tough match-up for a lot of teams.

"That's how they got to the finals, and I wouldn't be surprised if they won a ring anytime soon."

But the NBA lockout has made for an uncertain future for all the players.

"I know what everybody else knows," Daye said. "It's a tough situation because it's about one thing, and the one thing is money. Everyone is trying to benefit and one up each other. When you look at the NBA and how successful it is, it's kind of hard to say we're not doing well. It's such a world-wide game and a lot has changed. It's hard to see that we can't come to an agreement with all the positive things that are happening in basketball.

"I hope it doesn't come to it (the season) not being played, but I wouldn't be surprised if we lost a month or two."

In the meantime, Daye is working out every day and will be headed shortly to Las Vegas, where NBA players such as Chancey Billups, Rudy Gay, Kevin Garnett and Tayshaun Prince will be training during the lockout.

"It's very structured and I like that, so I'll be doing that for a couple months," Daye said.

The NBA lockout hasn't taken away any of Daye's enthusiasm for the game.

"I love it, it's something I've always dreamed of and something I felt in my senior year in high school that I chance to get to that level and it's a dream come true," Daye said.

The 23-year-old Daye looks like he will be in Detroit for the near future.

"I got my fourth year picked up, so I am going to be guaranteed there for two more years," he said.

But despite a $1.9 million salary this year (according to ESPN), Daye seems to be remaining level-headed. He bought a Range Rover when he got an advance on his first contract. But Daye said he doesn't live an extravagant life.

"I don't spend a whole lot. I try to be smart," Daye said. ""I know that when it comes to certain things, I have to say no to myself and there are certain things I can say yes to. I know that an NBA career only lasts 10, 11 years if you're very fortunate. And after that, you retire and so when you're retired at 30 something, you have a long life after that. You have to be smart with your money and I think a lot of guys around the league and starting to do that now and it's more apparent because you see other guys going broke.

"I feel there is a limit on how many cars you should have. I have one car and I don't plan on getting another one until maybe next year. But I see guys with 10 cars and they're in their sixth or seventh year. It's not a great investment."

Unlike many NBA players, Daye said he doesn't own a house.

"I don't feel a need to buy a place," Daye said. "In Detroit, there are great houses out there that I just lease. I don't feel there is a need for me to buy a house in Detroit, because you never know when you're going to be traded. I would love to get a permanent place in Los Angeles and probably Las Vegas. But the thing about it is I want to take my time and hopefully when I get another contract, hopefully my second deal will be pretty good and I can get my dream house. For me, I try to be smart with my money and I don't want to be spending it like that."

Since becoming an NBA player, Daye hasn't spent a lot of money of fancy vacations, either.

"It's not like I want to take trips to France, I'm really a California kid and I just want to be in California as much as I can."

Daye spends time with his new dog and he likes going to movies with friends.

"I like playing video games. I'll go outside sometimes and go to the mall. But I'm not the kind of guy who wants to spend a lot of money on things that are pointless."

When he's in Detroit, fans have an easy time recognizing him.

"I'm pretty tall, so it's hard to miss me but I know my way around crazy fans," Daye said.

Many of those fans will be following Daye and the Pistons, who will be led by new coach Lawrence Frank.

"I'm really excited about that," Daye said. "He's a great guy and a great coach and as soon as this lockout ends, I plan on calling him and congratulating him.

"I'm looking forward to having him as the coach and Brandon Knight (from Kentucky) is a great player to add to our team and I'm looking forward to playing with our guys again."

In the meantime, Daye seemed to be enjoying working with the youngsters at his camp, which started Monday and was to wrap up Thursday. Guest speakers included Mychal Thompson, the former NBA player and current Laker broadcaster. James Harden of the Oklahoma City Thunder was scheduled to drop by Thursday.

Daye believes it's important to give something back to the community.

And, he hopes to have the camp again next year.

"With the lockout, I don't know what the plan is going to be but I would love to and hopefully next year Woodbridge's gym will be available so I can do it back in my own school," he said. "I really want to do that because I love Woodbridge."

Daye said faculty members Sharon Jennings and boys basketball coach John Halagan "worked together to make a better me."

Other recent Press Box columns:

---Uni's Mark Cunningham back after cancer battle

---Domingo Ayala a big hit at Beckman baseball

---Tesoro's lacrosse All-American ready for next challenge

---Remembering former Woodbridge volleyball star Blake Mills


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