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Dampier towers above Lawrence basketball clinic

MONTICELLO – New Hebron native Erick Dampier stood out like agiant amidst a crowd of 30 very basketball campers Friday. Standing6-foot-11 and weighing around 265 pounds, the Lawrence Countynative was hosting his first area camp after finishing up hisfourth year with the NBA Golden State Warriors in Oakland,Calif.

Thirty kids were there to participate in the first Erick DampierRoundball Basketball Clinic at the high school gym. All proceedsfrom the camp will go to the Lawrence County Boys and GirlsClub.

“This is something to give back to the kids,” said Dampier. “Wewant the kids to work hard and stay away from drugs.”

Joining Dampier was Monticello Mayor Dave Nichols as well asseveral area coaches and trainers who volunteered their time tomake the first camp a success.

“We got a good cross section of ages,” said Mayor Nichols. “It’sgood. I am glad to see that. You wish there were more. The kid’sare learning a lot.”

Dampier has homes in Jackson and Oakland but is spending thesummer in Jackson . He also holds a basketball clinic in theJackson area that draws from 70-80 kids each year.

During the summer, Dampier is working on staying in shape andtaking care of his knee. “It will get better and I will a strongerperson,” said Dampier. “I learned a lot.”

At Lawrence County, Dampier was one of the best centers inMississippi. Dampier, along with talented teammates Vandale Thomasand Marcus Tyler, helped lead the Cougars to back-to-back statechampionships in 1991 and 1992. Lawrence County went on weeks laterto defeat the No. 1 ranked team in the state, the Murrah Mustangs58-56 before a crowd of nearly 8,000 fans in the Jackson StateUniversity Assembly center. That night, Dampier finished with 8points, 8 rebounds, 5 steals and 2 blocked shots while playingagainst Othello Harrington.

Dampier was selected as The Daily Leader’s Player of theYear in ’93 and was selected to the ’92 team. The two-timedefending state champ Bulldogs fell to eventual champ Lanier 75-59in Jackson in the ’93 state tournament.

During his senior year, Dampier averaged with 18 points, 14rebounds per game and 5 blocks per game.

Then Dampier got a scholarship to play college basketballwith the Mississippi State Bulldogs who were then coached byRichard Williams. He majored in physical education.

During his three years at Mississippi State, Dampier was anoutstanding player and team leader. He is the No. 13 player on theMSU 1,000-Point Club with 1,231 points for a 13.2 career average.His freshman year (93-94) he had 334 points for a 11.9 average; hissophomore year (94-95) he scored 393 points for a 13.1 average andhis junior year (95-96), he netted 494 points for a 14.5average.

Dampier is the fifth player in MSU history to earnfirst-team all-SEC honors during back-to-back seasons (94-95,95-96). Under his leadership, the Bulldogs went to threeconsecutive postseason tournaments and totaled a three-year recordof 66-27.

On the backboards, Dampier stands No. 4 in career reboundingwith 859 boards and seventh all-time in career rebounds. He is oneof five Bulldog players who have scored 1,000 or more career pointsand collected 800 or more career rebounds. He averaged 9.2rebounds.

Dampier excelled on defense and is the all-time leadingshot-blocker for MSU with 249 career blocks. He holds the Bulldogsrecord for the most blocks in a season with 106 in 95-96 andfinished with a 2.7 blocked during his three-year stint.

Dampier currently stands fourth in MSU’s career field goalpercentage shooting with a 578.7 percentage. He started 89 of 93games while with the Bulldogs. He registered 33 careerdouble-doubles.

During the 1995-96 campaign, Dampier and the Bulldogs wentall the way to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. On March 30,1966, Mississippi State fell to Syracuse 77-69 before a crowd of19,229 fans in the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford,New Jersey.

In the 1996 NBA Draft, Dampier was a junior at State when hewas selected No, 10 by the Indiana Pacers. He spent one year withthe Pacers before being traded to Golden State. At Indiana, Dampierscored a total of 370 points for a 5.1 average.

Dampier has just finished his fourth season with the GoldenState Warriors. For the year, he played in 43 games and finishedwith a 7.4 ppg. average. He had a 5.80 rebounding average (2.30offense & 3.60 defense) and a .532 free throw shooting average(67-126). His best game was in November against Indiana with 20points. Against Vancouver in April, 2001, he finished with 16rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals.

In his first three years with Golden State, Dampier scored23 points against Vancouver in ’98. In total rebounds, he collected18 rebounds twice in his Warrior career.

During the last two years, Golden State has had to contendwith a lot of player injuries. Towards the end of the 2001 season,the Warriors started to show what they are capable ofdoing.

Dampier still has that winning attitude and wants to play ona winning team. “I want to play for a winning team,” explainedDampier. “Win some games.

“I’m going to try to get in the best shape I can fortraining camp in October.”

Dampier is thinking about returning to school to get adegree in business.

“I work hard,” Dampier said. “I provided the way for myself.I”ll make myself better in some way.”

Mayor Nichols is a big fan and supporter Dampier.

“I look forward to Erik being healthy and playing well nextyear.”