Men’s basketball hosts second annual Aztec Fantasy Camp

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Men’s basketball hosts second annual Aztec Fantasy Camp

Two campers competing against each other during a five-on-five match at the second annual Aztec Fantasy Camp on Sept. 28 at Viejas Arena.

Two campers competing against each other during a five-on-five match at the second annual Aztec Fantasy Camp on Sept. 28 at Viejas Arena.

Sam Mayo

Two campers competing against each other during a five-on-five match at the second annual Aztec Fantasy Camp on Sept. 28 at Viejas Arena.

Sam Mayo

Sam Mayo

Two campers competing against each other during a five-on-five match at the second annual Aztec Fantasy Camp on Sept. 28 at Viejas Arena.

by Aaron Tolentino, Sports Editor

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San Diego State men’s basketball hosted its second annual Aztec Fantasy Camp on Saturday Sept. 28 at Viejas Arena.

The all-day event featured 31 of a maximum 32 campers over the age of 30 receiving on-court skill instruction, chalk talk from the SDSU coaching staff, shooting drills and five-on-five action. 

On top of that, campers received a plethora of SDSU basketball gear – including a custom SDSU jersey with each camper’s name, shorts, socks, compression tights, t-shirts, polo shirts and Jordan IVs, Jordan XIIs, Jordan Why Not Zer0.2, Jordan CP3 shoes.

Those 31 campers paid $1,500 each, which contributed to fundraising for the Aztec men’s basketball program. 

Aztecs guard KJ Feagin, a grad transfer from Santa Clara, said campers who pay that amount of money to spend a day inside the program shows the dedication of SDSU fans.

“It’s incredible coming from a smaller school,” Feagin said. “It’s just a different passion here, and you can genuinely tell they care about San Diego State … It’s just a blessing to be a part of something that people take pride in.”

Campers spent eight hours with the Aztec players and coaches, starting at 10 a.m. and finishing up at 6 p.m.

Not only did they perform drills and play in multiple five-on-five games, but campers also got an insight into how things are done inside the SDSU men’s basketball program.

SDSU head coach Brian Dutcher said the day gave these passionate SDSU fans and campers an opportunity to witness the hard work the team puts in before gamedays – which benefits everybody involved.

“The more time you get to spend with people that have an interest in your program, the better off you are,” Dutcher said. “They get a chance to spend with players that they watch on the floor. Then, they get a little insight in how we do things – how hard on it for these guys daily to come out here and practice. 

“We tried to show them a little bit of what we try to do offensively, what we do defensively. So when they do come back and watch games, they could kind of say ‘Yeah, that’s what the coaches talked about in camp. We can see it on the floor.’’’

Dutcher’s players helped with the camp throughout the day by coaching the campers and  running a few drills. Most notably, they served as general managers when drafting which campers they want on their team. 

The players got to do some scouting of the campers for a couple of hours during warmups and shootaround until the draft around 12:30 p.m. 

Feagin said he wanted to draft a team that could run up the floor and play fast. 

“We want to get up the floor – athletes, shooters, mobility, we want to switch one through four on ball screens,” he said. “We want to get out and run. I think we’ll be able to perfect our game plan with the roster we put together.”

Once their teams are drafted, the players serve as coaches for their respective squads.

This may be the only time college-aged kids can boss around men twice their age. 

Feagin took advantage of that opportunity.

“I think we’re a little harder (on them),” Feagin said. “Everywhere I go, I’m usually the youngest or one of the youngest. You got to take advantage. You can’t abuse your power, so we’ll use it to our strength.”

Will Feagin let his players relax and play zone defense?

“No,” he said with conviction. “We will challenge our players to defend one on one. If you can’t defend, you will not be on the floor.”

Camper and San Diego native Tommy Morris said keeping up with the cardio was the hardest part of the day.

“I might not make it out of the game alive,” he said. “It’s a long day.”

Keep in mind, Morris was the youngest camper in attendance at 30 years old. Imagine how the older men in camp would have felt after running up and down the court for hours.

That’s why Dutcher said the biggest improvement from the camp’s inaugural year to this year was shortening the segments. 

“We shortened some of the stuff,” he said with a smile. “Last year, warmups went too long. I think most of them played their game in warmups. They were exhausted by the time we played, so we’re warming up less and playing more this year.”

Aside from sore legs and tired lungs, these diehard Aztecs fans got a chance to experience playing on the Viejas court and feeling young again.

Morris has been an Aztec fan his whole life and cherished the opportunity to play basketball on the storied Viejas Arena court.

“I been an Aztec fan my whole life,” he said. “Getting to play on the court and pretend like I’m on the team for a day is pretty sweet.”

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