LA CRESCENTA — It's never too late to mold the next crop of talent on the basketball court.
Crescenta Valley High boys' basketball Coach Shawn Zargarian makes it a point one week during the summer to make sure the participants who flock to his annual camp are up to speed on shooting, rebounding, dribbling.
"It's about seeing them make progress and to continually drill them on the fundamentals," said Zargarian, a Crescenta Valley graduate who began the Coach Z Basketball Camp nine years ago. "It can be anything from knowing how to dribble with both hands to catching and passing the right way to being in the best position to defend.
"You want them to have fun and get better at the same time. That's why we are here to help them out. We try to add something new each camp, like how to work the pick and roll or setting a screen the right way."
Zargarian, who guided Crescenta Valley to a share of the Pacific League championship and an appearance in the playoffs last season, and his assistants — featuring his assistant coaches and former and current players — didn't waste time getting started. The camp, which began Monday and will conclude Friday, is geared for ages 6-13 and attracted about 85 participants, mainly from La Crescenta, Glendale and Burbank.
Traditionally, each day's camp gathering starts with a shoot around followed by stretching exercises inside the Crescenta Valley High gymnasium. The campers then head into stations focusing on fundamentals of rebounding, dribbling, shooting and other drills. Toward the end of each day, scrimmages are held to see what the participants grasped from the instruction.
"The games are usually the favorite part of each day," said Zargarian, a former All-Area Boys' Basketball Coach of the Year who led Crescenta Valley to appearances in the state tournament in 2012 and 2013. "Again, it's geared for them to see what they have learned and be able to apply it in the game.
"There's always something to be learned and they find that out here."
There are plenty of campers who return each summer to soak up additional information from Zargarian. Among those were Steven Hodges and Tyler Carlson of La Crescenta.
Hodges, 13, made his third straight camp appearance. Carlson, 12, attended the event for the third time in the last four years.
Hodges, who attends Rosemont Middle School, said he came back to the camp to work on his shooting skills.
"You get to be out here with your friends," Hodges said. "There are so many lessons involved with the camp.
"When you are doing a drill, they make sure you are doing it right. If something needs to be corrected, they help you correct it."
Carlson said the time spent learning from Zargarian is invaluable.
"You can pick up things very quickly from them," Carlson said. "They work with you on shooting because you can lose your shooting touch very quickly.
"I take the things I learn from here and bring it home. You have to keep at it if you want to get better."