NORTH LIBERTY– When players in the Prime Time basketball league take the gym floor at the North Liberty Community Recreation Center, fans see splendid athletes, well-versed in ball handling and shooting, putting up impressive shots and making remarkable plays.
They may not see the years of hard work behind it all.
Two of the league’s better-known players, Duez Henderson and Jason Price, have made the hard work their business.
The two former Iowa basketball players own and operate Bound 4 Glory Sports, a basketball training and consulting program that offers individual and group sessions, camps and clinics designed to develop and improve fundamental basketball skills. Their programs have been conducted in the gyms at the North Liberty Recreation Center for six years.
Price specializes in ball handling, control and defense, while Henderson focuses more on shooting mechanics and offensive principals. The two work in tandem, as they have since playing together for the University of Iowa Hawkeyes in the 1998, 1999 and 2000 seasons. Both men also played professional basketball in Europe, including one year on the same team in Germany.
“We can’t get away from each other,” joked Henderson.
Their college and professional experience led the players, as is common, to teach at youth basketball camps over the years. It was the camp concept that led to Bound 4 Glory.
“But we knew kids weren’t necessarily getting the individual attention they need when they are in a camp situation, so that’s where the idea of individual instruction came from,” said Henderson. “We also knew we wanted to help kids become better at basketball.”
The program offers a variety of session options for all levels of players, male and female, ranging from one-on-one lessons to small group sessions of up to five players. Bound 4 Glory also offers complete player clinics, and recently added AAU tryout-level teams, coached by Henderson and Price. Bound 4 Glory participants have to be at least 10 years old, but their basketball instruction is not limited to young athletes.
“We once worked with a 60-year-old man,” said Price. “He wanted to work on his shot for a free throw contest at one of the Hawkeye games. So, we take them at all ages.”
Both Henderson and Price also emphasize they can help players of any skill level as well. While some athletes have inherent ability, it’s really hard work and dedication that makes an all-around great player. Price said he developed this philosophy from experience.
“I grew up in Chicago, on the south side. I had five older brothers, and my brother Quentin was my idol.” Quentin played basketball in elementary and middle school, Price said, and he used to attend all his older brother’s games. “One day, I asked him to show me how to play. So he took me out, but he only showed me how to dribble, and said I had to work on just that for now. When I got better at dribbling, he’d show me something else. And he just kept adding on.”
Similarly, Henderson had an uncle who coached semi-pro teams, and allowed him to attend team practices and sit on the bench at games.
“I was kind of a goofy kid, and not a skilled player,” said Henderson, “but I just kept working. I worked like crazy at it.”
Both men impart this same slow-and-steady, persistent work ethic when they work with their students. The only real requirement, said Price, is the desire to keep playing.
“You have to love the game,” Price said. “Once you realize you love it, you just work at it. But the love has to be there, especially to get to the top level. That’s how guys make it to the NBA.”
Coaching has something to do with it, they both agreed, but having many different coaches– with varying coaching styles– over the years has only added to their successes.
“As a player, I always wanted to be as versatile as possible,” said Henderson. “I took a little bit from every coach and every team. The player I became had to do with all the coaches I played for.”
Beyond basketball fundamentals, both Price and Henderson have been heard on and off the court coaching their own players in life’s lessons as well, encouraging them to be on time for sessions, keep a positive attitude and be willing to work hard at whatever life throws at you.
“A good basketball player is a person that has great character, and approaches the game the right way,” said Price. He recalls a high school coach who made an impression on him, teaching Price and his teammates how to be young men of integrity, to carry themselves with respect. “Now, we always try to impress upon kids, it’s not just about who can put the ball up shot after shot, but who prepares for the game, who can treat his teammates well and be a leader.”
“Basketball is an easy way to get life’s lessons across without lecturing,” he said. “When you explain that it’s not just about being on time for your lesson or your game, but eventually, you are going to have to go to work and be on time. Basketball is a good way to incorporate many life lessons.”
This summer will mark the seventh year for Bound 4 Glory, and the two men only see the program expanding and providing more opportunities for kids ages 10 years to 12th grade to participate in lessons, clinics and even some AAU tournaments the pair is beginning to organize. Registration can be completed online by visiting bound4glorysports.com, or by calling (319) 541-1306. A winter break camp is also being held Dec. 28 through 30, and registration is being taken through the Recreation Center, 626-5716, or visit the city’s website at www.northlibertyiowa.org , and follow the recreation links.
“As cliché as it sounds, there’s great joy in having a positive effect on a kid’s life,” said Henderson.