A ‘Mainland-style’ Hoops Clinic

Byron Mello, Punahou, row 3, sixth from left, and Barack Obama, Punahou, row 4, third from left. Other big local basketball names include Alan Lum, Punahou, row 3, eighth from left; Daryl Gabriel, Punahou/LMU, row 4, ninth from left; and Mark Rodrigues, Saint Louis/Chaminade, next to Dan Hale, Punahou/UH/Chaminade, row 5, third from left. Photo from Byron Mello

Byron Mello remembers the first time he attended what he considered to be a big-time Mainland-style basketball camp: “It was the Snow Valley Basketball School in the summer of 1977 when it took place at Mid-Pacific. Among those players in attendance was a future president of the United States.”

The player, of course, was young Barry Obama, who later played on a state high school championship team at Punahou and then began to dabble in the world of politics. Mello also developed into a state championship player himself at Punahou and went into coaching, eventually earning ILH coach of the year honors in 2003.

Mello’s passion for the game also led to his ownership of the Performance Basketball Clinics, which operates the Hawaii Elite Camp each summer. This year’s camp is scheduled for July 18-21 at Mid-Pacific Gym and is open to boys ages 13-18.

“What we’re trying to bring is a Mainland-style clinic to the Islands,” he says. “Last year, we had about 60 participants and the response was very positive. This year, we’re hoping for 90 players total.”

Coach Mello brings up the Snow Valley Basketball School memory because one of this year’s top instructors at the Hawaii Elite Camp is Coach Herb Livsey, a top scout for the Denver Nuggets. Livsey founded the Snow Valley School and ran it for more than four decades, working with such legendary coaches as John Wooden and Pat Riley as camp coaches over the years.

“Snow Valley is one of the largest basketball camps in the country and is considered the finest teaching camp in the U.S.,” he says.

Mello says the Hawaii Elite Camp brings that level of instruction to the Islands.

“We have coaches who love to teach, and the players really benefit,” he says.

Joining Livsey on the camp staff this summer will be Dave Servern, director of player personnel for the Los Angeles Clippers. Servern previously served in the same position with the Chicago Bulls and mentored future NBA all-stars such as Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose, who went on to win league MVP honors.

“We have a good balance of skill development and competition,” he says. “We have 5-on-5 games, and the players play for a championship. It’s invaluable when you get to apply what you’ve learned in the camp and put it immediately into a game situation.

“This is a great value when you consider the fact that, if you wanted to go to a camp like this on Mainland, it would cost you at least $1,000 or more when you consider airfare and hotel.”

Early bird registration is available now at $195 for the four-day clinic. Registration is open until the camp begins, with the cost increasing to $225 if you sign up after July 1. Register online at pbclinics.com or email Coach Mello at bmello@hawaii.rr.com.

There’s no guarantee that the experience will lead to the presidency, but your basketball skill development should put you on your own path to future stardom.