GREAT FALLS — When COVID-19 hit, Kareem Jamar was in the middle of his season with the Kharkiv Falcons in the Ukrainian Basketball Superleague. When the season was cut short, the former Montana Grizzly and Big Sky Conference player of the year was looking for a way to stay in the gym. Luckily, he has connections in Great Falls.
"I've been coming to Great Falls, my love life has brought me to Great Falls for the last seven years. Then I just came back every summer. I'm usually here for a month, maybe month and a half," he said. "Then obviously COVID happened. I’m originally from Los Angeles, so no gyms were open, everything was hectic. I decided to stay here, it’s the only place I can get into a gym."
This summer, Jamar started training a few local kids, then a few more, and then a few more. Pretty soon he had an idea: Prolific Basketball Academy, a skills clinic that had its first go-round on Saturday at the Heisey Community Center. Although he only advertised for a week, Jamar and his team of coaches already had to turn people away.
"I was just training kids, just one-on-one training. I really enjoyed that," he said. "I was convinced to just try it on a bigger scale and try to reach more kids."
Jamar’s playing days aren’t over by any stretch, but these clinics are giving him some practice for his post-basketball life.
"That's another reason why I kind of started, I wanted to get more into this. Like I said, I love the training part. I love working with kids and obviously I love basketball. I put a lot into basketball," Jamar said. "So I said, 'OK, let me just get used to it.' And I'm going to do more and more during the offseason to get prepared. So when I'm done and retired, it'll be an easy transition."
Jamar said to expect more of these clinics, so don’t fret if you got turned away this time. Follow Prolific Basketball Academy on Facebook for updates on future clinics and camps.