Battle in the Bluffs is all about hoops fundamentals

Ian Minor, director of the inaugural "Battle in the Bluffs," at Niantic Park in Oak Bluffs. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

This weekend, a former Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School graduate and collegiate basketball player will sponsor the inaugural “Battle in the Bluffs” youth fundamental basketball camp. The goal, Ian Minor said, is to help kids ages 8 to 16 develop solid fundamentals and respect for the game.

Mr. Minor will be joined by his sister Kia Minor, Harley Fuller, a professional player in Germany, and collegiate all-american Kris Davis.

The camp will be broken up into two full-day sessions.

On July 6, the focus will be on skill sets and drills. The staff will cover ball handling, court vision exercises, basketball IQ, on-ball and help defense, rebounding, boxing out, setting picks, pick and roll, pick and pop, and defending picks. The next day, age groups will play in full court games with referees, for each skill set.

This week, The Times emailed Mr. Minor a series of questions and asked him to describe the camp and tell us something about himself.

MVT: Tell me something about yourself and your basketball background?

Mr. Minor: I have been coming to M.V. for most of my summers as a child and young teenager. I always played in the basketball summer league and played pickup. So I appreciated the Vineyard for its summer appeal and knew nothing about what it was about during the school year/winter time because I would head back to New York City.

That was until my mother decided to move me to M.V. in 10th grade. Talk about a culture shock. I went from being among the majority in a 5,000 kid school to a minority in a school with far less students. Looking back, it turned out to be one of the best things to happen to me in my life.

I tried out that year for varsity but was cut, to my surprise. That was the year the team had Jade Cash, Alex Moore, Brian Scott, Jose Rodriguez, and others I can’t recall. I was very upset because I knew I could play varsity and I used to work out with most of the varsity team during workouts and preseason scrimmages.

“Quantum leap some years. Jose and I graduated and went to Holyoke Community College. This is where my game really started to develop. Jose was looking like he was only going to be there one year and he would be transferring to a Division 1 school until he broke his hand.

“From there, I transferred to Santa Barbara City College, got injured, red-shirted, and then kicked off the team for being a hot-head and immature, but in my defense our coach was horrible. After that, I went back to New York and started working, met the love of my life, she got pregnant, and I took on three jobs, one of them being coaching after my daughter was born. I got a chance to go back to school and play at Molloy College at 25 years old, had two good seasons, and graduated with high honors.

MVT: How did the idea for the Battle in the Bluffs come about?

Mr. Minor: Well the idea came up just reminiscing with an old friend, Arthur Andrews III, about the battles we used to have every summer on those courts. From there it was like we had given the thought legs and we started making the thought into a reality.

I always want to find a way to support and educate youth beyond the basketball courts. I use it as the platform to cultivate young minds outside the baselines and get them ready for the board rooms. The skills you need to be successful in life and basketball are one and the same, but for me it’s very important to give them both equal shine, because the reality is most kids don’t play basketball after high school let alone anywhere professionally, so as coaches and mentors we are doing a major disservice if we fail to address the facts of the matter.

MVT: What do you hope will be the most important lessons kids might take away from this camp?

Mr. Minor: To work hard, always push yourself, and to be able to define one’s own success. Also, that basketball and life are very similar and in both it’s not the mistakes that define who you are, but what you do after you make them.

As people and players you have to learn how to endure and evolve. Very basic but very important, a lesson I am still teaching and learning in my own life.

MVT: What is the key to making the transition from playing to coaching kids?

Mr. Minor: I am not even sure I am the authority to answer a question like this because I think one of the reasons I am so good at relating to them is because in a lot of ways I am still a kid myself, learning and falling and having to get up while not letting my mistakes define me and who I am.

The same thing I coach and teach I live and I am immersed in. So if you love the game and love giving back to be able to do so is very humbling. So if there is a key, I don’t have it yet because God has opened up these doors for me to change lives and I am honored and blessed to have the opportunity.

For more information on the “Battle in the Bluffs,” go to 646-457-9810.