Former UNC basketball player sponsors an annual basketball clinic for local kids

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Marcus Ginyard hosts nearly 100 local girls and boys for his two-day camp every July

By Matt White |  Photography by Beth Mann

The East Chapel Hill High School gym fills with the squeaks and slaps of a basketball shootaround as nearly 100 kids wait for former UNC basketball star Marcus Ginyard to blow his whistle at the start of his annual Chapel Hill Community Day. The two-day camp is a labor of love for the former Tar Heel. It’s aimed at elementary and middle schoolers in Orange County who live and breathe basketball but who don’t make their way to traditional weeklong camps.

“We work with police departments, the sheriff’s department, community centers and school guidance departments to really focus on the kids who don’t have $700 to spend on a Roy Williams Carolina Basketball Camp,” Marcus says.

Yazmin “Yaz” Paisant, 11, and Jadzia Burnette, 14, were at camp last summer and are exactly the kind of kids Marcus wants to see attending. Both live in Carrboro and play basketball as much as they can at school, in rec leagues and with friends on local courts. The Community Day is one of the few chances they get to attend a camp. As early-arriving campers wait for Marcus’ whistle to officially begin the day, Yaz and Jadzia step into a quick game in one corner of the gym. For about 10 minutes, the two girls post up, pass around and shoot over a group of mostly middle school boys.

Yaz’s mom, Misty Paisant, says the Community Day is invaluable for her daughter, a sixth grader at McDougle Middle School. “This is her third year going, and she just loves it,” Misty says. “It’s the only camp she goes to. I have five children, so it’s hard to find something for each of them. It’s just the two days, but she wishes it was longer.”

Marcus soon blows his whistle to begin camp, and the kids break into age groups to spend the morning in traditional basketball drills, skills and games.

Marcus introduces his coaching staff, which includes former UNC players, his own relatives and a ninth grader, Jack Murphy, who attended another one of Marcus’ camps in their shared hometown of Alexandria, Virginia, for five years.

“I feel honored that he wanted to be a part of it,” Marcus says. “He went to the camp and felt so good about it he wanted to be a part of allowing other kids to experience it.”

Another coach is Amber Henson, who, Marcus says, he invited despite her playing for Duke.

“It was a little tough for me, but we needed an extra hand,” Marcus jokes. Amber’s brother, John Henson, played with Marcus at UNC. “That’s still family, but if it was somebody else who went to Duke, that would be different.”

Marcus was a member of one of UNC’s most lauded teams, which won the National Championship in 2009 and included National Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough. Marcus graduated in 2010 and played professionally for teams in Germany, Ukraine, Israel, Poland, Greece and North Macedonia. He signed a contract in summer 2019 to play in Limoges, France, for the next two seasons.

Marcus Ginyard annual basketball camp
Marcus, far left, recruited representatives from the local fire, police and other service departments to speak to the campers and demonstrate a fire hose and a police dog in action.

The camp is something of a family affair for Marcus, with both relatives and friends from the extended Tar Heel family chipping in. He calls his mother, Annise Ginyard, the camp’s “essential engine component.” A real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty, Annise serves as both the president of the camp’s administrative organization and the director of operations during the weekend. Marcus, who lives in Governors Village when he’s not playing abroad, recruits former and current Tar Heels as coaches for the camp. Tyler, Theo Pinson, Luke Maye, Mike Copeland and Garrison Brooks have all helped out, Marcus says, as have a number of local businesses.

The camp breaks for lunch with food from Italian Pizzeria III (IP3), a favorite hangout of Marcus’ during his years at UNC. “Having IP3 provide the food is no random act,” Marcus says. “This is iconic Chapel Hill, and it’s also great that they share our vision of what we’re trying to do with these kids. They’re giving pizza, because that’s what they do, but it means a lot more.”

After lunch, the camp adjourns to the parking lots outside the gym, where an array of police, fire and other service vehicles are waiting, along with representatives from each department.

“It’s always our intention from the start to bring these kids together with their peers, but also with leaders in the community and service members,” Marcus says. “All it takes for kids this age is to feel supported. The great thing about having law enforcement and fire department and health care professionals here, it gives [kids] an idea about some other things they can be passionate about.”

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