Georges Niang, currently playing for the Utah Jazz, returned to Ames Sunday and Monday to host his annual basketball camp and golf outing.

Niang’s camp is for youths from the second grade and up, and his golf outing was expected to raise around $40,000 for local Iowa non-profit Youth Standing Strong (YSS). Niang returns to Ames every year to give back to a community that he says has given so much to him.

Niang’s camp — which is in its fourth year — stems from his experiences as a young basketball player.

Niang summer camp 3

Former Iowa State men's basketball player Georges Niang talks with a young camp participant during a 4-on-4 drill at his summer basketball camp at the All Iowa Attack Basketball Facilities on July 28. Niang has held the camp annually since 2016. 

Dana Barros, a native from Niang’s home state of Massachusetts, played at Boston College and was in the NBA from 1989 to 2004 and held a camp that Niang was able to attend.

When Niang was in the same shoes as the young campers, he said he remembers seeing players he looked up to — like Barros — and wanting to ask them questions and be around them.

The Barros camp Niang attended was a rare occurrence for Niang as a youth basketball player, so Niang said he wanted to provide a camp were children in Ames would be able to have an NBA player in their midst regularly.

At his latest camp on Sunday, there were around 100 children at the camp. The children, both male and female, marched around the Iowa Attack practice facility in workout clothes — some even in Niang’s college or professional jerseys.

The following day men and women in golf polos and skirts met at the Ames Golf and Country Club for the third golf tournament held in Niang’s name.

“We are doing this [tournament] for a great cause, every year we try to find a new one that connects us with the community and is important to someone on our staff,” Niang said.

The Annual Georges Niang Golf Tournament chose to have YSS as the benefactor of all the money raised at the event. Aside from entry fees, the event has a silent auction for Niang-signed memorabilia.

Niang golf outing

Former Iowa State men’s basketball player Georges Niang talks with current men’s basketball head coach Steve Prohm before Niang’s golf outing on July 29 at Ames Golf and Country Club. Prohm coached Niang during his junior and senior year at Iowa State, during which Niang passed 2,000 points scoring and was named 2015 Big 12 Tournament MVP. 

Prior to YSS, the golf outing has had Habitat for Humanity and Mary Greeley Behavioral Health and Services as the featured organization.

“I really think it was just I wanted to switch it up and give to as many people as we can," Niang said. "If we are just giving to one charity it kind of seems like you are only going in one direction, so we wanted to give in many directions."

Niang said members of his team vote on which organization they want to support for the golf outing — which has increased its total revenue raised every year.

When choosing YSS, Niang said he wanted to provide children with the same opportunities he had growing up and with YSS and their residential substance abuse treatment program, which will be receiving all the money raised.

“This tournament will impact our residential substance abuse treatment program, which is near and dear in my heart,” Andrew Allen, the CEO for YSS, said. “Twenty-three years ago today, I was just getting ready to graduate that program, so I’m an alumnus of the program.”

The program is for people ages 12 to 18 who have struggled with substance abuse in their lives and treats them, teaches them how addiction is affecting their lives and gives them tools to maintain sobriety.

YSS has two male treatment centers in Ames and Mason City, Iowa and a female center in Ames. Those programs help around 40 youths at any given time during the year.

“It’s three to four months of intensive treatment, 24 hours a day, seven days a week — staffed all of the time," Allen said. "These kids — as they move through the level system, they get more freedoms and sometimes go home on home passes and start to get acclimated to what life after treatment is going to be like."

Allen said when he went through the program at 17 years old, he had no direction and was desperate and hopeless after being arrested for felony charges— in-and-out of court and diagnosed as a sociopath. The program connected him to his community and helped him find his spirituality.

Despite his success story, Allen said his job can be difficult as not every child is able to make a recovery. In the last year, he said he attended the funerals of four people, who were connected with YSS. One person died of an overdose, another was murdered and two others to suicide.

For those who are able to recover, Allen said he receives messages from them such as graduating high school and attending college while staying sober.

“The reality of addiction is stark, yet the opportunity for recover is great, so my life should be a testament to each of the kids in our program,” Allen said.

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