Retired NBA Star Hosts Camp

Jerrod Mustaf
Jerrod Mustaf recently hosted a basketball camp at Thomas Academy. The former NBA star said his goal is to give back to the community and gives children a positive role model. (Submitted)

Whiteville native and former NBA star Jerrod Mustaf returned to Columbus County last week to host a free basketball and life skills camp at Thomas Academy in Lake Waccamaw. 

Mustaf is a two-time international basketball champion who has devoted his time and energy since 2001 into giving back to the community where he grew up.  

Mustaf said he was inspired to host a camp here because of his memories growing up in Whiteville, and he wanted to make it free for boys and girls of all ages to attend. His goal is to open their minds to future possibilities by getting them involved in sports. The retired athlete says the county has so much to offer, but he wanted to do something geared toward the children.  

“The one thing we did not have was a lot of outlets for sports. I felt that the kids never really experienced former professional athletes coming back to the community. So, I wanted to see if I could do something like that to help broaden their perspectives,” said Mustaf. 

Mustaf was born in Whiteville in 1969 where he and his family lived until he was 13. They then relocated to Hyattsville, Md., where his basketball skills began to come to life. The basketball player previously spent two summers being coached at a camp ran by Coach Morgan Wootten. The 6’10” teenager and his parents agreed that Wootten was the best man to help grow Mustaf’s talent.  

Wootten’s guidance and Mustaf’s hard work began paying off in 1988 when the youth was named McDonald High School All-American. He was dedicated to being a basketball player. 

“I didn’t take a day off. Rain, sleet, or snow. No matter what, I found a way to play basketball,” he said.  

Mustaf graduated and moved on to play for the University of Maryland, and after being named third-team All-ACC during his sophomore year, the college student drafted by the New York Knicks. He played his first season with the Knicks and was traded to the Phoenix Suns. During his time with the Suns, the team made it to the NBA finals where they lost to the Chicago Bulls. Mustaf began playing internationally one year after the loss, and won championships in Spain and Poland. He retired in 2001. 

The former NBA star is the CEO of U.S. Elite Basketball and his father’s non-profit established in 1990, the Take Charge Program. Both organizations were founded to provide second chance programs and sports outlets for youth to express themselves. Not only do they teach children about basketball, but they also educate them about cyberbullying, antibullying, leadership development, and health and nutrition.  

The camp at Thomas Academy was presented by both of Mustaf’s non-profits. To learn more about the Take Charge Program, visit https://www.takechargeprogram.org/. To find out more about U.S. Elite Basketball, visit https://uselitebasketball.com.  

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