Former Petoskey great looks ahead as career end draws near
Former Petoskey High School great Trevor Huffman works the ball up the court during a game last season for Spirou Charleroi, his Euroleague team. Huffman has signed a two-year contract with a team in France as he enters his 11th year of professional basketball. (courtesy photo / July 17, 2012)
Now 33 and facing the inevitable -- the end of his playing days -- the Petoskey High School basketball legend is looking to pass along his vast knowledge of the game to the next generation.
With that, he is launching the Huffman Elite Basketball Academy in Petoskey. It runs from Monday through Friday, July 23-27, and, as is typical of the 1998 Petoskey High School graduate, it's all about depth, details, and goal-setting.
And he's taking his trademark pragmatic approach.
"I'm going to show them ball handling, dribbling, shooting, progressions from the foundation on up," Huffman said. "You can get a great foundation and you start something new and you're going to be completely pushed. You're always going to be challenged with basketball. The goal is to push yourself and make the choice to get in there every day."
Huffman made that choice a long time ago, and it paid big-time dividends.
He and his pal, John Flynn, were the nucleus of three of the very best basketball teams Petoskey ever produced in the late 1990s under coach Dennis Starkey. They led the Northmen to three Class B regional championships and two state semifinal berths during their legendary careers.
After leaving Petoskey, Huffman went on to Kent State University and left in 2002 as the school's all-time leading scorer with 1,820 points, a mark that still stands.
He gained national fame in leading Kent to a 77-73 first-round upset of Indiana in the 2001 NCAA tournament. Huffman scored 20 of his 24 points in the second-half of that game. A year later, he led the Golden Flashes to the Elite Eight of the tournament.
Fast forward more than a decade, and Huffman is entering his 11th year of professional basketball in Europe. He recently signed a two-year contract with a team in France and he figures it will be the final stop in a pro career that began in Germany and has taken him to Poland, Portugal and, for the past six years, Belgium.
He has also sprinkled in stateside stints on the New York Knicks Summer League team, a tryout with the Phoenix Suns, and a year in the Continental Basketball Association.
When his contract with Antibes of the Pro B French League expires after the 2013-14 season, Huffman will be 35.
Playing out his career on the French Riveria is a nice, and well-deserved, bonus.
"It's like a dream come true in terms of places to live," he said. "The sunnier it is and the more beaches there are, the better. I'm usually in a better state of mind when the sun's out."
Still, no matter the locale, Huffman's first home remains the gym, be it in Europe or the place where he first cast his legend, Petoskey.
"I have a lot of support in Petoskey," he said. "That's important to me and that's the best place I can be in the summer. My goal is to have this (academy) grow every year."
Huffman, ever the student of the game, said he has learned plenty while playing in Europe, and he plans to fashion his academy on a European model where the emphasis is on a foundation of well-rounded skill and fundamentals.
"The European model is from (age) 6 on up you come in and work on your skills," he said, adding that it is a departure from the way the American game has evolved, which is to emphasize games and competition. "I think that's the way to do it, learn the technical skills and fundamentals. ... Show them what to do when they're out in their driveway on their own. Skills first, and make it fun and make it so kids push to beat themselves and then move it into a game scenario or a live scenario after that.
"I by no means have all the answers, but I think you can show kids a lot of different things and they can pick up and do things they're good at."