HANCEVILLE — Allen Sharpe is passionate about basketball. But almost half of his life has been devoted to the game.

As the son of a college basketball coach, Allen practically grew up inside a gym — soaking up everything he possibly could about the game he loves.

Allen wanted to be like his father when he was young. So naturally, he chose a career in coaching.

“I was always a gym rat,” said Allen, who is heading into his fourth season as the Wallace State men’s basketball coach. “My father was a coach, so I was always in the gym at practice or on a bus traveling with the team. I was almost always around the team.”

Now that Allen has his own family, it’s his son who’s spending hours upon hours in the gym each day. And just like his father, Garrison is starting to show an increased interest in basketball.

“Oh, he loves it,” Allen said. “He loves coming to practice and being around the team. The players pick at him sometimes. It’s good for him.

“The players are good to him. We keep it clean at practice. No one is allowed to use any dirty words. You never know when little ears may be listening.”

At 4 years old, Garrison already appears to be passionate about basketball. But he gets it honest.

Garrison’s father isn’t the only member of the Sharpe family that grew up around basketball. His mother, Susan, also has a love for the game.

Before Susan married Allen, she was a standout player on the hardwood. She played college basketball at David Lipsomb.

“Susan loves basketball just as much as me,” Allen said. “She was a great player, and she’s also done some coaching. Susan knows her stuff.”

Garrison may only be 4 years old, but he’s already trying to play basketball with older kids. So when Allen held his third annual Sharpe Shooters Camp this week, he let his son participate.

But this wasn’t the first time Garrison had attended the Sharpe Shooters Camp. He actually gave it at shot last year — even though he was only 3 years old.

“We let him go to the camp last year,” Allen said. “He did a lot better this year, but he was still younger than everyone else. I think the next youngest there was 6 years old, so there was a pretty big difference.”

Despite being the youngest kid at a camp designed for players in kindergarten through ninth grade, Garrison held his own. Or at least his father thinks so.

“He did just fine,” Allen said. “I think it’s good for him. He’s about at the age where he can start playing some type of basketball. The main thing was that he had fun.”

Now in its third year, Allen said the annual Sharpe Shooters Camp has grown over the years. The Wallace coach said somewhere around 50 players attended the four-day event this year.

According to Allen, the camp’s goal was to teach young players the fundamentals of basketball — and hopefully instill good practice habits in everyone who attended.

“That’s the main goal,” Allen said. “We worked on fundamentals in the morning — like passing, dribbling and defense. In the afternoon, we worked on shooting technique.

“We teach the kids different things they can work on at home. They can take some of these drills and continue to work on their game.”

Since the camp is offered to both boys and girls, Allen asked someone he considers to be an expert on women’s basketball to come out and help.

“Susan helps me with the camp,” he said. “She loves doing this camp every year. Since we have young girls out here, it really helps having Susan around. She relates with the girls, and they really seem to like her.

“Basically, we just want the camp to be fun. This gives kids a chance to come out and do something related to basketball in the summer. It’s turned into a really fun event.”

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