Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hot shot prospects can learn about basketball

At a new camp in Sun Valley

Express Staff Writer

Carson Sofro, upon his graduation from The Community School in 2001. Photo by Mountain Express

Community School graduate Carson Sofro, 23, is still shooting to play basketball at the NBA level. In the meantime he wants to give something back to Wood River Valley youth.

Sofro's Hot Shot Summer Basketball Program for boys and girls in grades 3-8 is due to begin Monday, June 25 and continue five days a week from 9-11 a.m. at The Community School gym in Sun Valley.

Programs for secondary school students will also be offered, he said. Kids in grades 7-12 will meet from 1-3 p.m. five days a week, and those from grades 9-12 will gather from 4-6 p.m. at the Sun Valley gym.

Sofro said fundamentals, skill work, game situations, shooting and dribbling will be emphasized during the camps, which he and his staff plan to run weekdays through July 20.

Monthly, weekly and daily rates will be offered. The cost is $20 for a daily pass, $65 weekly and $220 for the entire four week session for each age.

Registration occurs Monday from 8:30-9 a.m. at The Community School gym. Call Sofro at 720-1904 for more details.

Sofro hopes his extensive basketball background will help him teach local kids.

For the last year after graduating from the University of Redlands (Ca.) in 2006, Sofro has been playing professional basketball in England, Michigan, Oregon and Colorado. He has been a practice player for the NBA Development League Colorado 14ers squad based in Broomfield near Boulder, Colo.

Sofro said, "I've achieved a lot of success in basketball. Not a lot of guys are offered an opportunity to be a practice player for a NBA Development League team. Having grown up here, I know there aren't many opportunities for Wood River Valley kids in terms of basketball. I'd like to help in that area and give something back."

His experiences playing minor league pro basketball in the last year have taught Sofro that he needs to increase his strength and speed if he wants to compete successfully at higher levels of pro hoops.

"People don't realize how fast the professional game is. I came from a system (at Redlands) of run-and-gun. What I've found is they play regular basketball at the professional level at a speed that we played run-and-gun and thought we were fast in college," said Sofro.

A son of John Sofro of Ketchum and Barbara Dudley of Bend, Ore., Carson was a star player at The Community School in Sun Valley where he was the leading Cutthroat scorer with 388 points (18.5 ppg) in his senior year of 2000-01.

Sofro remains the second-leading Cutthroat career scorer with 589 points (15.9 ppg).

After a post-grad year at Kent School in Connecticut, Sofro enrolled at the University of Redlands. There, the 6-8 sharpshooter played basketball for coach Gary Smith for four years, averaged 8.0 ppg in 10 minutes a game and finished as the school's third-leading all-time 3-point shooter with 226.

He competed as a practice player for former Idaho Stampede minor league basketball coach Joe Wolf, now coach of the NBA Development League Colorado 14ers, from Dec. 2006 through March of this year.

Wolf played for Hall of Fame coach Dean Smith at the University of North Carolina, averaging 15.2 ppg in his senior season. Drafted in the first round of the 1987 NBA draft, he went on to an 11-year NBA career with five teams, averaging 4.2 points and 3.3 rebounds.

Sofro said he hopes to give the "D League" another shot in Nov. 2007 after five months of strength and shooting training.

"I'm not done yet. I'm going to give it one more shot," said Sofro, who has been projected as a #2 shooting guard or #3 small forward at the professional level. "Coach Wolf said you've got four years to try to make it to the NBA so he's got me on a four-year goal."

In addition to guiding local kids this summer, Sofro said he hopes to raise money to buy a $5,000 shooting gun—the basketball equivalent of a pitching machine and batting cage.

He said, "It's the greatest basketball tool you can buy. It sits under a basketball hoop and rebounds for you. In an hour you can get 700 shots. I'd like to buy two machines this summer and donate them to The Community School and Wood River High School."

Camp director Sofro will be assisted by Keith Zalaski, 23, a Simsbury, Ct. product who was an important member of the 2002-06 Amherst College basketball team that won a then-school record 105 games in four years including 28-4 in 2006.

Another coach at the Hot Shot Summer Basketball Program will be Ed Flory of Ketchum, he said.

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