LAS VEGAS — Josh Huestis is coming off what he calls the most challenging season of his professional basketball career.
The Great Falls native and CMR alum suffered a broken foot during training camp with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs last fall, leading to a four-month recovery.
He eventually returned to play 27 games for the Austin Spurs of the NBA G-League, averaging 8.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, though he says he never felt 100 percent.
“This past year was tough. Coming back from the injury was a lot harder than I thought it would be,” he said. “Being sidelined for 16 weeks, I wasn’t really able to work on the things that I wanted to work on skill-wise. Basically when I got healthy, the season was already halfway over and as soon as I was healthy, it was right back to playing. Didn’t really get to sharpen my skills back from where I was pre-injury.”
So Huestis, a 2014 first-round draft pick of the Oklahoma City Thunder, enters his sixth professional season as a free agent again. He and his wife, Haley, are living in Las Vegas while Huestis trains at IMPACT Basketball, staying in shape and gearing up for what lies ahead.
“That’s why I’m excited about this offseason,” Huestis said. “I’m healthy and optimistic about being able to get back in the gym and having all offseason to get back to where I was before I got hurt.”
Huestis hasn’t ruled out pursuing a contract overseas, but returning to the NBA is still his preference and ultimate goal.
While he continues to train and await his free agency fate, preparations are well under way for the third annual Josh Huestis Basketball Camps in Montana.
The two camps for ages 9-17 are set for June 17-20 in Great Falls and July 15-18 in Bozeman. There are a few new wrinkles for this year’s edition. The first is a “Chalk Talk” session between Huestis and campers, where he will go over offensive and defensive concepts that he’s picked up over the years.
“Getting an opportunity to teach is really important,” Huestis said. “To be able to sit there, able to watch how it should be done, with the coaches and myself demonstrating, and then giving campers an opportunity to ask any questions they have so they can learn as well as possible.”
The second new addition to the camp is a potential one-on-one training session with Huestis. Every registered camper will be entered to win a private session the day following the camp, something Huestis hopes can help take their game to the next level.
“I’m excited about that one, because during camp I try to take the time to make sure every camper has a one-on-one experience with me,” he said. “But just having a chance to really have an extended period of time to work on an individual level is going to be really exciting and really fun.”
A name will be drawn each day and those campers who register before May 1 will have their name entered twice.
Huestis is one of the few Montanans that has ascended to the highest levels of the sport, but he might be joined by others sooner than later. Former Missoula Hellgate star Tres Tinkle, now at Oregon State, recently declared for the NBA draft. And Billings Skyview product RayQuan Evans justcommitted to play in the ACC at Florida State.
Huestis believes camps like his are essential for young players who hope to one day play in college or professionally, and he has simple advice for those following their dreams.
“Always be the hardest worker in the room and put yourself out there,” he said. “I think a lot of kids get trapped thinking high school basketball is going to be enough. I love Montana, but it’s unfortunate that college coaches just aren’t coming to Montana to watch. So you’ve got to put yourself out there and find as many camps and tournaments as you can play in outside the state, and just try to expand your game by playing against the best competition that you can find.”
For more information and to register for the camp, visit www.jhuestisbasketball.com.