Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Former Collins Hill and UConn standout Maya Moore gives instruction during a free one-day basketball camp that she hosted at Southwest DeKalb High School on Tuesday.
DECATUR -- Before Maya Moore ever became the most decorated women's basketball player of all-time, she honed her skills at basketball camps.
The former Collins Hill and Connecticut standout wanted to bring that opportunity to her hometown.
The Minnesota Lynx star hosted A Very Maya Christmas, a free one-day basketball camp at Southwest DeKalb High School on Tuesday.
"I think one of the best parts of being a pro athlete is being an influence for kids," Moore said. "You get a chance to teach them some fundamentals. These are some things that helped me. Not just basics, but some of the little things that helped me really stand out and advance."
The camp featured 75 middle school girls in the morning session and 75 high school students in the afternoon of the invitation-only clinic.
Athletes went through basketball drills, listened to a motivational talk from Moore, participated in a team-building workshop, and played in 3-on-3 games.
"We learned a lot of things from working on passing and encouraging teammates and just doing things we can do to help our game," said Aja Young, an eighth-grader at Suwanee's Creekland Middle School -- Moore's alma mater.
Moore floated from group to group giving her own pointers and advice. The camp was assisted by coaches from Moore's former AAU basketball team, the Georgia Metros, and former college players like Tennessee standout Kelley Cain, an Atlanta native who played at St. Pius.
"The energy in the gym, we always have a lot of energy. That's what we try to apply to these kids. It's not a quiet gym," Moore said. "I try to go in and give them valuable information and hold them accountable."
It was a bit of a homecoming celebration for Moore. Several girls wore Collins Hill or Georgia Metros T-shirts. Some girls even had Maya Moore Minnesota Lynx basketball jerseys or T-shirts to show appreciation for the star.
Maya Moore Basketball Camp
Maya Moore, a Collins Hill grad who went on to play at UConn, hosts a free basketball camp. Moore is a current WNBA star.
"It's a great experience," said another camper from Gwinnett, Chasitie Jordan, an eighth-grader at Pickneyville Middle School. "She's the No. 1 pick, so it's a great experience to learn from someone like that."
Moore has plenty of experience and success to share. The 22-year-old is one of the most decorated women's basketball players of all-time. She led Collins Hill to three Class AAAAA state championships and a mythical national title in 2007, earning the Naismith Player of the Year award in 2006 and 2007.
Moore was a four-time All-American at UConn, leading the Huskies to two national titles and an NCAA record 90-game winning streak. She set numerous Big East and school records in scoring, rebounds and steals. Moore received just about every award imaginable while in college from academic All-American to Final Four MVP to the ESPY for Best Female College Athlete.
Moore was selected with the No. 1 pick in April's WNBA draft by the Minnesota Lynx. Her success continued at the professional level, being named rookie of the year and leading the Lynx to their first WNBA championship.
"She's always been a good role model," Young said. "Everything she does, she does it with a lot of effort and 100 percent. That's really important."
In her last nine years of basketball since being a freshman at Collins Hill, Moore has a record of 309-15, which includes six championships. Both will likely expand over time as Moore will play overseas and will likely make the national team for next year's Olympics in London.
The camp was the end of a two-month break Moore has taken since leading the Lynx to the WNBA title. She'll celebrate Christmas with her family this weekend and then leave for Spain next week. Moore has signed with Ros Casares Valencia, a successful European basketball team.
"I'm going to try and win another championship. It doesn't stop," she said.
Moore credits her success to her early days of basketball when she went to camps like the one she hosted on Tuesday.
She still remembers going to a camp that featured WNBA legend Cynthia Cooper when she was growing up.
"Some of the things you learn in camps, you might not specifically learn it, but it sticks with you," Moore said. "I saw Cynthia Cooper doing that drill when I was 8, so I worked on it when I got home for hours on the playground."
Those camps had such a great impact on developing the game's greatest female player. Moore hopes her clinic can one day do that for another girl.
"I'm going to try and do it as much as possible. Every year, I'll have to see how it fits into my schedule," Moore said. "We're really trying to make it a cool experience for the one day we do have. Hopefully, it's the first of many."