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  • Writer's pictureMatt Babcock

Previewing Damian Lillard’s Formula Zero Elite Camp

NBA Draft Analyst Matt Babcock previews Damian Lillard's 2nd annual Formula Zero Elite Camp.

He stands just 6-foot-2, isn't the most athletic, wasn't labeled a phenom in high school, wasn't recruited to a blue-blood program, and wasn't a one-and-done. Instead, he attended a smaller school and played for four years in college before becoming a lottery pick in the NBA draft and earning the Rookie of the Year award in his first year in the league.

Fast forward over a decade, and he received seven NBA All-Star and seven All-NBA Team selections, won a gold medal at the Olympics, and was named one of the Top 75 players in NBA history. And although he's been doing it a long time, there's no indication that he's slowing down. Last season, he averaged a career-high 32.2 points per game.

Of course, I'm talking about NBA superstar Damian Lillard, perhaps better known as "Dame," "Dame Time," or "Dame D.O.L.L.A."

Damian Lillard

Last year, I was fortunate to be invited to join the staff at Damian Lillard's inaugural Formula Zero, an elite camp for top high school and college players, in Portland, Oregon.

Before arriving, I wasn't quite sure what I had signed up for; however, within the first few minutes of hearing Dame and his longtime coach and mentor, Phil Beckner, outline the intent and purpose of Formula Zero, I knew I was a part of something special, and something that was much more impactful than your typical basketball camp.

In the first meeting, the question was raised: how has Dame achieved so much success? His answer, to put it simply: "The Formula: Character. Hard Work. Accountability."

Dame continued to explain how he had seen so many young players enter the league with talent but lacked the seriousness or proper approach to achieve sustainable success. And that's essentially why Dame and Phil Beckner created Formula Zero so that Dame could share the blueprint he's leaned on throughout his career with some of the younger players that are coming up in hopes of helping them attain the tools to find success in their basketball careers but also in life.

Phil Beckner

Often basketball showcase events and camps serve as a feeding frenzy for agents, college recruiters, and media; however, not at Formula Zero. Aside from the players and our staff, NBA scouts were the only additional people allowed into the building: no parents, no agents, no media, nobody. So while in Portland, our group conducted intense workouts on the court for several days with no fluff. It was all business. And our time spent as a group off the court was at least equally impactful, if not more. Many inspirational speakers, including Dame and Phil Beckner, discussed many things; some sessions were deep. Even after the camp concluded, we held monthly Zoom calls with our staff and group of players to continue supporting one another.

And before we knew it, we established our Formula Zero community.

I'm proud to say many of our players found success last season: 15 of our college counselors were recognized for their seasons and named to all-conference teams, four of which were named player of the year in their conferences, including Jalen Wilson (Kansas), Tylor Perry (North Texas), Marcus Sasser (Houston), and Jalen Slawson (Furman). And a handful of our players were drafted in the 2023 NBA Draft, including Keyonte George (Utah Jazz), Kris Murray (Portland Trail Blazers), Marcus Sasser (Detroit Pistons), Jalen Wilson (Brooklyn Nets), and Jalen Slawson (Sacramento Kings).

2022 Formula Zero Elite Camp

The first inaugural Formula Zero was a great success, so we're running it back!

This year's Formula Zero Elite Camp will be held this week in Phoenix, Arizona, August 16-19. And we have a whole new group of players. Here are the rosters:

High School:

Tyler Betsey - St. Thomas Moore (CT)

Isaiah Brown - Orlando Christian (FL)

James Brown - Link Year (MO)

Jase Butler - The Branson School (CA)

Zoom Diallo - Prolific Prep (CA)

Isaiah Elohim - Sierra Canyon (CA)

Kellen Hampton - Southern California Academy (CA)

Davion Hannah - Nicolet (WI)

Jalen Haralson - La Lumiere (IN)

Ian Jackson - Cardinal Hayes (NY)

Mikey Lewis - Prolific Prep (CA)

Trey McKenney - Orchard Lake St. Mary's (MI)

Mercy Miller - Notre Dame (CA)

Ahmad Nowell - Imhotep (PA)

Rakease Passmore - Combine Academy (NC)

Koa Peat - Perry (AZ)

Labaron Philon - Baker (AL)

Jasir Rencher - Archbishop Riordan (CA)

Cam Scott - Lexington (SC)

College Counselors:

T.J. Bamba - Villanova

Khalif Battle - Arkansas

Blake Buchanan - Virginia

Stephon Castle - UConn

Deshawn Harris-Smith - Maryland

C.J. Huntley - Appalachian State

Elmarko Jackson - Kansas

Kam Jones - Marquette

K.J. Jones II - Emmanuel

Tylor Kolek - Marquette

Alijah Martin - Florida Atlantic

Zeke Mayo - South Dakota State

Javian McCollum - Oklahoma

Aamer Muhammad - Troy

Jameer Nelson Jr. - TCU

Brandon Rechsteiner - Virginia Tech

Wade Taylor IV - Texas A&M

Steven Verplancken Jr. - Weber State

Ja'Kobe Walter - Baylor

Although the camp will be closed this upcoming week, you can come along for the ride by following the Formula Zero social media accounts: Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter.

And for the players set to attend this week, get ready to work!

See you in Phoenix!

Character. Hard Work. Accountability.

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