He gripped the ball with both hands. His knees bent in the perfect stance at the free-throw line. This wasn’t the NBA, but the pressure was still on as 30 Ardmore youth looked up at him with awe in their eyes.
The sweat dripped down his face, as the Oklahoma heat overtook the gym. Looking calm and collected he took the shot, and just like that, the ball went in.
Kids participating in the Dominique Coursey Basketball Academy were starstruck as former Oklahoma City Thunder player Hasheem Thabeet dropped in Thursday, to teach the kids a thing or two about becoming a professional player.
“Every time you step on the court you can be the best, but you have to work hard,” Thabeet said. “I came here from Tanzania when I was 15-years-old. Whenever I thought about going home, I told myself, ‘no, you’re here for something great.’ I didn’t quit, I’ll never quit.”
Thabeet stressed the importance of working hard to get where you want to be in life.
“All these kids won’t end up playing basketball,” he said. “But they can learn something. It’s all about learning the skills you need in life. It’s about creating a platform for them to raise. I hope to implement things like this in my community when I go back to Tanzania.”
Dominique Coursey’s basketball academy is a seven-week summer camp that aims to teach kids the fundamentals of basketball, while also keeping them active during the summer. The camp that lasts from 8 a.m. -12 p.m.  
“I want to give back, because people helped me when I was the same age these kids are,” Coursey said. “For some of these kids the only meals they will have for the day are the ones they have with me. I’m so thankful for all my sponsors that make this possible. ”
In addition to Thabeet dropping in, Wednesday’s camp also featured guest speaker Quinn Wooldridge, Oklahoma Baptist University’s head coach.
Wooldridge told the kids the five things he looks for in selecting players for his team. Those who demonstrate integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and are servant leaders.
“I want great basketball players and good people,” he said. “All those things boil down to choice. Everyone has a choice to do the right thing or not. Do the right thing.”
To sign up for Coursey’s next camp contact him at (580) 227-1167 or dcoursey54@gmail.com.