An Interview With Corey Brewer; The Former Florida Gators Star On His Camp, Diabetes, UF, And The NBA

Earlier this week, I told you about Corey Brewer’s upcoming Back 2 Back Youth Basketball Camp to benefit his Fight Diabetes Fund. The camp – for boys and girls ages 9-17 – will be held at The Rock School in Gainesville, FL on August 6-8, 2012. For more information or to register, visit Brewer’s site.

I also had the chance to talk with Brewer about the camp and the reasons he started it in the first place. We also talked about his time with the Florida Gators, playing in the NBA, and the differences between the college and professional game. Here’s what he had to say:

On the camp and Brewer’s Fight Diabetes Fund: “I wanted to do a camp and I wanted to do it to give back to my Corey Brewer Fight Diabetes Fund at Shands Hospital and what better place to do it than Gainesville. This is my third year doing it and it’s been getting better and better each year. It’s been a lot of fun getting back to Gainesville and it’s for a good cause. It’s to try to find a way to fight, a way to prevent diabetes the best way that we can and trying to get the word out about this disease and that it’s harmful and people need to be aware of it.

“It’s increasing each year and more and more people keep coming. I want to keep doing it for a long time. Each year, I try to make it better. Some of my campers even come visit me on the road. One of my campers went to L.A. games twice and one of the kids in New York goes to every Knicks game.”

On his basketball accomplishments: “I dreamed about playing college basketball, so it was definitely a dream come true to have the opportunity to play at the University of Florida. I always used to watch the NCAA Tournament, but to actually be able to win it and to be named the MOP with a lot of the great players there were out there, it was just amazing.

“And then every kid dreams of being an NBA player, but I wasn’t just fortunate to become an NBA player, I was fortunate enough to be a lottery pick. It was an amazing situation for me. But then after all of that, my first year here, it was tough in the NBA. Last year, I was in a good situation where
I was actually able to win an NBA title and who doesn’t want to win. I’ve had a good career so far in basketball.”

On coming back to defend their national championship and the unsung heroes: “It was tough because every night everyone played their best game against us. It was tough. Hard, but fun because we were together again and it was a great ride.

“Our bench guys were great. Bench guys never get enough credit, but ours we’re a huge part of everything. Chris Richards, Adrian Moss – our big men subs – came in and did an amazing job. And my main man Walter Hodge. He’s the most versatile player out of anybody. He was great backing up multiple positions. He backed up the point, the two, the three. He was a big part of our success.

“All of our assistants did a great job pushing us and that’s why they’ve all had a chance to be head coaches. Coach Grant at Alabama, getting them to the NCAA Tournament. Coach Donnie Jones, now at UCF, turning them around. And Coach Shyatt was my defensive coach. He’s at Wyoming now and actually came to my playoff games this year. He and I are really close and I’m close with his family. All of our assistants and staff were great and helped us along the way.”

One coming back to Florida for a third season: “It was extremely tough to make that decision, but my father and my mother helped me and told me to do whatever made me happy. We were having such a good time; every single game was so amazing. You’re only in college one time, so why not make the most of it. After we won back-to-back, we had done what we wanted to do. It was time for the NBA Draft, so we had to go.”

On being a lockdown defender: “There’s a lot of pride in it, but it’s all about how hard you work. My dad always said you can go a long way if you’re working hard. You always hear if you can play defense, you can win and I always wanted to win.”

On the differences in the NBA: “It’s a different speed; much faster. Everybody’s good. There’s no weak link; everyone can play. One night you have Kobe, the next night you have LeBron James, the next night you have Kevin Durant. There’s never a night off. Every night I know it’s going to be one of those guys and the team is depending on me to not necessarily stop them, but to definitely slow them down enough to help the team win. It’s a tough situation, but an exciting one as well.

“My goal is to keep getting better and hopefully be a part of the Denver Nuggets’ family for a long time. Hopefully I have a chance to stay here and can get a long-term deal with those guys. As a team, we’re going to be good next year. We’re going to try to win and win big. Not just make the playoffs, but win big.”

On the Gators’ future and Billy Donovan recruiting big men: “They’ll be good again next year, but they just have to keep winning. You have to win if you’re a Gator. I try to keep up with it all and make sure they’re playing the right way.

“I think Coach is a great recruiter, but recruiting is always tough. You look at the bigger guys that have come through – Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Udonis Haslem, Matt Bonner – all really good NBA players. Chandler Parsons recently. I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to go play for Coach Donovan.

“He’s doing a good job. He’ll start to get big men again. They keep playing well, everyone is going to want to come to Gainesville. Just have to win.”

I have to give a huge thanks to Corey for talking with me and for organizing his camp every year. It’s great to see a legendary Gator great doing something he has a passion for and raising awareness to help those in need.

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