Tobias Harris returns to Long Island to host his camp

NBA player and Long Island product Tobias Harris NBA player and Long Island product Tobias Harris speaks at the Upper Room Christian School in Dix Hills. (June 28, 2013) Photo Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

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You're coming off a breakout season in the NBA. You're a 20-year-old with fame and fortune. You're in a crowd of children doing the Harlem Shake.

"I'm a kid,'' Tobias Harris said, "just like them."

The Half Hollow Hills West product, now a forward for the Orlando Magic, returned to Long Island this week to host his annual basketball camp, "School of Business."

It wasn't long ago that Harris was the one attending camps, not running them. He recalls NBA players showing up for only an hour or two, signing autographs and leaving. Someday, he promised, Camp Harris would be different.

"I always said to myself that I'd be there the whole time, interacting with the kids," he said after camp at Half Hollow Hills East High School on Friday. "It's my camp. I should be here all day, every day."

He is. He's running the drills, he's handing out the awards, he's . . . well, doing the Harlem Shake dance in the middle of the gym.

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His mind-set hasn't been altered by the success he had in the second half of last season after being traded from Milwaukee to Orlando at the trade deadline in February.

"You never want to get too high on your success or get too low on your downfall," he said. "I always try to keep myself around the right people and keep myself on the right path."

The path to Orlando, after a year and a half of limited playing time with the Bucks, proved to be the right one. In 27 games after the trade, Harris averaged 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds and went from being a mere trade-package throw-in to a key piece in a rebuilding process.

"It was the best feeling ever to see him achieve his dreams," said his younger brother Terry, who will be a senior at Hills West in the fall and is drawing the interest of Division I colleges. "But he's still the same guy. He's humble."

Part of Harris' focus in the offseason will be on improving his three-point efficiency, his ballhandling and his ability to finish off the dribble.

He said his daily routine during camp week began when he woke up at 4:45 a.m. for weight lifting at the gym with his trainer. He then worked out before and after camp, concentrating on shooting and conditioning. Then it was back to the gym to do laps in the pool.

Harris soon will head back to Orlando to play in the summer league before returning to Long Island to host another camp session in late August.

"I got an opportunity to showcase my game and have fun doing it," Harris said. "But I'm still working as hard as I can and trying to give back to this community. I want to put smiles on kids' faces and give them a time they will remember for the rest of their life."

Like the day they did the Harlem Shake with Tobias Harris.

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