Former Cyclone star Naz Mitrou-Long is having fun and giving back.
Just take a look at the way he was directing the afternoon group of 20-plus kids at the All-Iowa Attack Fieldhouse on Friday afternoon: With a smile on his face and a commitment to the task at hand.
This is the second year of Mitrou-Long’s basketball camp, which he runs with former Cyclone women's basketball player Lyndsey Fennelly. During the afternoon session of the camp, Mitrou-Long took some time to speak to the Daily about giving back to the Ames community and his reflections on a whirlwind first year as a professional.
Iowa State Daily: How’s the camp going so far?
Naz Mitrou-Long: It’s been great. The first session was, like, 82-84 kids, and we’ve got about 24 here. We had about 200 kids last year, and the numbers finished out to be about 130 this year, if my math is good.
What I’m getting at is, we have a smaller group this year. And that’s a good thing, you know? It’s easier to get that personal connection, that one-on-one attention that they need, and I really feel like they’re really getting something out of it. Especially this group right here (points), they’re learning a lot.
It’s great, it’s been going great. I love it, man. I’m excited, like I’m jittery, I’m ready to go get a workout in. (laughs)
Daily: You spent three years in Ames and obviously formed a bond with Iowa State, do you feel like this is one way of giving back?
Mitrou-Long: This community, I’ve said this a countless amount of times and I’ll continue to say it until who knows when, but they accepted me. It’s my duty now to give back whenever I can.
I take pride in giving back and I’m going to do so whenever I can.
Daily: So you’re going to continue the camps?
Mitrou-Long: Absolutely. Down the line, we want to make it bigger and better.
Daily: What was your experience like in Utah with the Jazz and their G League team (the Salt Lake City Stars)?
Mitrou-Long: It was amazing. At the beginning of the year, I was really weighing the options going overseas or staying here. I went with my heart, and my mind, and that’s to chase this dream of playing in the NBA, and my first year went great. I think I surpassed a lot of people’s expectations for myself.
I know what I’m capable of doing, and I’m very happy that I made the decision to stay.
Daily: What was it like being reunited with Georges [Niang] this year?
Mitrou-Long: It’s special, you know? People leave college and people leave teams like their AAU teams and high school not ever knowing if they’ll ever see any of their teammates again. I’ve been fortunate enough to play with Georges in my first Summer League out of college, and unfortunately he got hurt. But still, we were able to work together at training camp in Indiana [with the Pacers], then the Jazz picked him up on a two-way.
I played another half a season with him. I mean, that just doesn’t happen, and the magnitude of our relationship, and what we have with our chemistry on the court, it was easy to translate. When he came, man, it flipped our season around. It was special, man. I’ll never take that stuff for granted.