GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP - Jason Thompson of the Sacramento Kings stood in front of more than 100 boys during a basketball camp at Richard Stockton College on Tuesday afternoon.
Thompson asked who was the shortest boy at the camp. Someone 3-foot-9 raised his hand.
Then Thompson asked who was the tallest player. A 6-4 boy in the back raised his hand.
Thompson could identify with both of them. He began his career as a 5-11 point guard at Lenape High School. He is now a 6-11 power forward/center in the NBA.
"There's no reason why a 3-9 guy shouldn't have post skills," Thompson said. "And with the big guys, the game has changed. You have guys 7-foot tall like Dirk Nowitzki shooting 3-pointers.
"I didn't limit myself," he said. "I could shoot from the outside. I developed post moves."
Ray Bethea, a 13-year-old camper from Egg Harbor Township, got the message.
"He (Thompson) was saying size doesn't matter," Bethea said.
The Nothing but Net basketball camp annually gives local players a chance to meet, get a few tips and hear the stories of NBA players. About 130 boys, ages 8-16, are attending the camp at Stockton this week.
"You can learn a lot from the NBA players and he workouts and drills are good too," Bethea said.
The Worldwide Basketball Academy runs the camp in conjunction with Stockton.
In the past, the camp has brought NBA superstars LeBron James and Chris Paul to Stockton.
This week, the NBA players all have New Jersey backgrounds.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of the Charlotte Hornets spoke Monday. Kidd-Gilchrist grew up in Somerdale in Camden County and attended St. Patrick's High School in Elizabeth.
Thompson comes from Mount Laurel.
J.R. Smith of the New York Knicks is scheduled to speak today. Smith grew up in Lakewood and played for Lakewood High School and St. Benedict's Prep in Newark.
The camp also features Stockton basketball coach Gerry Matthews and his staff, as well as prominent South Jersey high school coaches such as Gene Allen of Atlantic City, John Valore of Camden and Tony Devlin of Paul VI.
Thompson joked with Allen about Lenape beating Atlantic City in the 2004 South Jersey title game.
Thompson is different than Smith or Kidd-Gilchrist. Smith never went to college. Kidd-Gilchrist attended Kentucky for a season.
If there's a realistic path to the NBA it's Thompson's. He played four years at Rider University. The Kings selected him with the 12th pick in the 2008 draft.
"I have a different story," Thompson said. "I wasn't one of those guys who was one and done (in college)."
After his talk, Thompson ran some shooting drills for the campers. He posed for pictures and signed some autographs.
"It puts a joy in kids' hearts that you can see players that you've watched on TV," said 15-year-old camper Chris Marsh of Atlantic City.
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