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Lessons with Laettner

Young basketball players had the rare opportunity to learn from a former college star, NBA player for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Olympic gold medalist this past Sunday and Monday at Blackduck High School.

Christian Laettner, who played on the 1992 United States Olympic men’s basketball team, was in town to teach players some of the basics.

He worked with those who signed up for his camp Sunday, and he also spent some time with the boys and girls high school teams on Monday.

“He focused a lot on ball handling, passing and catching and footwork,” said Grant Mistic, coach of the Blackduck boys team.

Laettner and his basketball academy have been to a few different schools across northern Minnesota recently after this summer’s academy was cancelled.

The camp was scheduled to be held in June 2013 in Bemidji with 90 participants pre-registered, but something came up and Laettner had to cancel last minute.

“I said ‘I just got to get back up there and apologize and let them know I’ll be up here again and again and again,’” Laettner said of his visit to Blackduck.

At a Laettner academy in fall 2012 in Bemidji a total of 115 basketball players participated.

Recently, he held a camp and worked with basketball players in Baudette and has plans to visit International Falls after Thanksgiving.

“I love going to big metropolises and big schools and I also love going to the small schools,” Laettner said. “I get to teach some and spread the recognition of my academy.”

Mistic said his team was impressed with what Laettner had to show them.

“He had some very good things that we can use and expand on,” Mistic said. “He knew the kids and what type of ballplayers they were.”

The camp on Monday was also the first day of practice for the team and they will continue to work on the skills Laettner taught them.

“As coaches, were always looking for new things and different drills,” Mistic said.

Blackduck will play its first game of the season at 7:15 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22 against Northland/Remer.

Basketball isn’t the only hobby Laettner gets to enjoy while he’s up north. He also found the time to go muskie fishing on Lake Bemidji and do a little deer hunting.

While he wasn’t so successful in deer hunting, he did catch a 40-inch muskie with friend and muskie fishing guide in Bemidji, Kevin Cochran.

Jillian Gandsey

Jillian Gandsey is the Multimedia Editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. She is an Iron Range native and a 2013 graduate of Bemidji State University. Follow Jillian on Twitter and Instagram @jilliangandsey. Contact her at 218-333-9786, 218-996-1216 or at 

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