A few years ago, Hopkinsville native Jermaine Lee took a group of players to the Owensboro Dust Bowl and just as quickly as it started, he thought that part of his basketball career was done.

But it turned out that it was just getting started.

"I tell people all the time this has got to be God's will because I don't know where this came from," he said. "I thought we'd just do one Dustbowl and be done with it."

Lee graduated from Central Hardin and played at Campbellsville for a couple of seasons.

Lee's son wanted him to start an AAU team and with that, Kentucky Big Game Hunterz was born and his fifth-grade team got their start this summer.

"That's how all of this got started," he said. "I already had the name. It was like my alter ego."

Lee said this year's team was planning on just playing a few tournaments, but they've played nine and have had some pretty good finishes so far.

One group out of Houston even had them ranked top 30 in the country.

"I don't know, but I'll take it," he said.

Starting Friday and running through Sunday, Lee and several coaches brought their talents to the Planters Bank-Jennie Stuart Health Sportsplex in Hopkinsville for his first ever youth camp as Kentucky Big Game Hunterz.

Lee admitted he was pretty nervous going into the weekend.

"I was terrified," he said.

But with the weekend off to a solid start Friday with around 25 campers, Lee said he was pleased with the result.

"It's more about the development of the kids rather than putting a bunch of good players together and running around the country," he said.

Lee said the goal of the weekend is to help kids gain confidence.

"There might be a kid who comes in today that's lacking confidence and by Sunday he's ready to take on whoever," he said. "That's the goal of the situation from my angle."

For that player, Lee is giving out a "Most Improved Confidence" award.

Along with the MVP award, there's also a hustle award and a coach's award that goes to the coach that leads the players the best.

There's another award that means a lot to Lee as he was a winner of it when he was in high school.

See Hoptown/Page B6

The "I Can" award goes to the camper that says they can complete their goals. Lee said he struggled at times in high school and he kept saying I can and eventually he did.

Lee, along with his coaches, know the importance of helping the community that raised them.

"It feels great," he said. "I don't live here and people see me sometimes and they always see me gone or see you on social media and wonder where you're at. I'm no different than anybody else."

The camp continues 9 a.m.-noon today at the Sportsplex and 2-5 p.m. Sunday. Cost is $30 per session.

For more information on Big Game Hunterz and to help with AAU program, find them on Facebook at BigGame Hunterz.

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