Special to www.uncabulldogs.com. Printed with permission.
By Keith Jarrett
ASHEVILLE - When Josh Pittman was growing up in Winston-Salem, his summer camp idols included Wake Forest basketball stars Tim Duncan and Randolph Childress.
Those are the players Pittman idolized, literally looking up to them as he sat on the floor and absorbed their lessons on the fundamentals of the game.
This week at Eddie Biedenbach's 2011 Basketball School at UNC Asheville, Pittman was that professional player that kids listened to and wanted to be like.
One of the best players ever at Asheville and an inductee into the school's athletics hall of fame this year, Pittman enjoys coming back to spend time with his college coach and reach out to youngsters.
"Basketball to me is a family thing, so when I can come back to Asheville and work with coach B and with the kids and help teach them the game, I'm all for that because it feels like family," said Pittman, 34, who just completed his 14th year of professional basketball and is currently playing in Argentina.
"Coach B is a father figure to me, just like he is to his players and these kids. I respect and love him so much, so thankful for what he did for me, that I always try to come back and help."
Pittman was a two-time Big South Conference Player of the Year under Biedenbach (1996-97, '97-98) and ranks fourth on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,547 career points.
"I love it when guys like Josh help us with the camps," said Biedenbach, who also welcomed back former players like K.J. Garland and Joey Harrell this week and will have former all-conference guard Andre Smith in next week's camp.
"I like it when I see T-shirts from camps we did three or four years ago, because it tells me the kids had a good time and wanted to come back.
"Likewise, I like seeing my old players come back, because that tells me the same thing. Josh was a great player, and he's a great guy, and the kids can see that when he works with them."
"It was motivating to me for players like Duncan and Childress to work with us, because we wanted to be like them, wanted to get to their level," Pittman said. "Now, I see these kids looking at me like that, and I know what they are thinking and dreaming. I want to help them get there."