GREAT FALLS — Josh Huestis has played a lot of basketball over the years. But he hasn’t always loved it.
“I think it’s easy to forget why you play basketball,” Huestis said Monday at his third annual camp. “I think it’s easy to get caught up in the competition and always comparing yourself to other people. At least I know it was for me, I had this revelation this year that I was playing basketball for the wrong reasons.”
So the fifth-year pro and Great Falls native took a step back and re-focused. Even though he faces an uncertain future as a free agent coming off of a foot injury, he’s enjoying the game and life more than he has in a long time.
In that spirit, the theme of this year’s camp is to play “for the Love of the game”.
“I kind of lost sight of why I wanted to play and why I fell in love with the game in the first place and I wanted to emphasize that for kids this year,” he said. “Remember why you play and remember what was important, which is the relationships you get from it and then running your own race, having fun with it, always trying to get better. It’s not about comparing yourself to others, it’s just about enjoying your time playing basketball because it doesn’t last forever.”
Maintaining that perspective leads to improvement both on and off the court. After getting drafted in the first round by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2014 NBA draft, Huestis has spent parts of the last five seasons in the NBA and in the developmental G-League.
Huestis spent 2018-19 as a member of the Austin Spurs, the G-League affiliate of the San Antonio Spurs. Now a free agent, he is making strides while training in Las Vegas as he awaits his professional fate.
“By coming to that realization, it takes a lot of pressure off me and in all honesty, doing that allows me to play better,” he said. “When I’m having fun out there, the game just comes easier, more naturally. Glad I got back to that.”
So it’s fitting that Huestis hosts his camp in Great Falls, at CM Russell High School where he first learned to love basketball.
“The nostalgia just kind of rolls in,” he said “It’s awesome seeing everybody here. This is almost like a reunion, I really look forward to it and I know everybody else does. We have a lot of fun. The memories come floating back and it’s always good to reminisce and think about where I came from.”
The Josh Huestis basketball camp rolls continues at Great Falls CMR and West elementary through Thursday. An additional camp will be held in Bozeman July 15-18. For more information visit jhuestisbasketball.com.