BROOMFIELD - In six years, Louis Amundson’s career in the NBA has taken him through five different cities, with a possible sixth stop in store for next season.
But through all the travels and hardships, the former Boulder and Monarch High standout hasn’t forgotten his roots. That’s why last week Amundson found himself surrounded by dozens of young basketball players who were eager to soak up any sort of knowledge or stories the 6-foot-9 power forward was willing to share.
“It’s just great because the kids here are all so curious,” Amundson said last Thursday on the final day of his Skills Academy at Legacy High School. “They’re all so excited to be here and to hear about the NBA. It’s fun for them and it’s fun for me to kind of see their excitement.”
The 29-year-old spent last season with the Indiana Pacers, where he averaged 3.6 points and 3.7 rebounds in 60 games. Since graduating from UNLV and spending a brief period with the former area NBA D-League franchise Colorado 14ers in Broomfield, Amundson has played for Utah, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Golden State and Indiana.
“I definitely don’t take any of it for granted. I appreciate every day I get to put on that jersey and go out there and do what I love to do,” said Amundson, who becomes a free agent July 1. “It’s just amazing. I don’t know if I’ll ever fully be used to it. It’s still a thrill for me and I think it always will be.”
The camp was one in a series put on this summer by Geoff Golden, a former player and coach. Golden, who was the Player Development Coach with the 14ers, got to know Amundson better after working with him during the NBA lockout a year ago.
“Just to have the opportunity for a young kid to be around somebody who has made it to the level Louis has is special,” Golden said. “For that person to actually be somebody who grew up right here in this area just puts a little bit of icing on the cake.”
Golden said roughly 60 kids attended the four-day camp, which was opened to players from grades 1-12.
Pomona girls basketball coach Jenni Benningfield, a former standout at Vanderbilt and in the WNBA, was one of a handful of coaches who worked with Golden and Amundson over the four days.
“He’s living proof of what hard work does,” Benningfield said. “It was great because he gave them a chance to ask him questions and say ‘OK, how can you get from here to the NBA?’ To see someone who’s willing to take the time out of their summer to come and in and teach and show that kind of support, of course they follow suit.”
Amundson was part of the first 14ers squad before getting called up to play for the Utah Jazz. During a break where the campers had the chance to ask him a number of questions, Amundson admitted that one-time Denver Nuggets player and former 14ers coach Joe Wolf has probably been his favorite coach during his career. He said he enjoyed his time with the team and was disappointed when the franchise moved to Dallas after winning the D-League championship in 2009.
“Obviously it was a step on the way to where I am now,” said Amundson, who credited the league with giving his career a second chance after he wasn’t drafted out of UNLV. “I think every step of the way is important, whatever level it is.”
At the conclusion of the camp, players had the opportunity to meet with Amundson to receive an autograph and have a photo taken. It was hard to tell who enjoyed the experience more — the kids or Amundson.
“I’ve been playing this game my entire life, so I have a lot of knowledge built up over the years,” he said. “It’s just nice to be able to give that back a little bit to these kids.
“These kids have been great — great attitude all week. They want to learn, they want to get better. That’s kind of been the reward for me.”