ADAMS TWP — This wasn’t any ordinary invitation.
When Mars eighth-grader Robby Carmody — son of Planets varsity boys basketball coach Rob Carmody — opened a letter in the mail, he discovered an invitation to the first-ever Chris Paul CP3 Rising Stars National Camp.
The camp, held in Winston-Salem, N.C., earlier this month, brought together the nation’s top 40 basketball players from the classes of 2017, 2018 and 2019. And it was by invitation only.
Most of the players were invited through their performances at Chris Paul Rising Stars Regional Camps. Those were held in recent months in Atlanta (Ga.), Birmingham (Ala.), Greensboro (N.C.) and Washington, D.C.
“Robby didn’t attend any of those regionals,” Carmody said. “He’s been playing AAU ball and we’ve done a lot of traveling that way.
“A coach saw him play somewhere along the way, recommended him for this camp and he got the invitation. It was an exciting surprise.”
Carmody was one of only three eighth-graders from Pennsylvania — point guards Cameron Reddish of Philadelphia and Curtis Aiken of Pittsburgh the others — invited to the camp.
Robby Carmody is a 5-foot-11 shooting guard who played for his father’s Caveman seventh-grade team this summer. The team is one of many AAU Caveman squads under a basketball organization headed by North Allegheny coach Dave DeGregorio.
Carmody’s team traveled to tournaments in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Akron and Cleveland this year. Robby scored a season-high 35 points in a game.
He scored 42 points in a contest last winter for the Mars seventh-grade team, which lost only one game.
“Our Caveman team hasn’t lost to a Pennsylvania opponent in three years,” Rob Carmody said. “We played in the NAYS National Championships in Chicago. It’s a pretty talented group of kids.”
But it was nothing compared to the caliber of players at the Paul national camp. Paul is an NBA all-star guard with the Los Angeles Clippers.
“That was an eye opener,” Robby said of the camp. “The other players were more developed physically than I was.”
The two-day camp featured skill sessions and combine workouts in the morning, along with nine games over two afternoons.
One of the incoming eighth-graders at the camp is 6-foot-7 and can already windmill dunk. He’s been highlighted on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
“Robby can dunk ... but not like that,” Carmody said. “The talent there was incredible. These kids did not look like eighth-graders.”
Regardless of the players’ advanced skill level, they were drilled on fundamentals throughout the camp.
“As a parent and coach, that’s what I loved to see,” Carmody said. “They were stressing faith, family, academics, teamwork — all of the right things.”
Robby said he was impressed by a charging drill he and the others went through.
“We had to do 20 defensive slides in 20 seconds. That was pretty rough,” he said.
The players were also taken on a visit to the Chris Paul Skills Academy, a closed gym where Paul works with the top 30 high school and top 30 college players in the country.
“There was nothing fancy about that, either,” Carmody said. “He was drilling those kids hard, again, nothing but fundamentals.”
The Carmody family has a basketball hoop in the driveway and Robby works on his game every day. He plays football and baseball in the Mars district, as well.
“My dad has helped my game so much,” Robby said. “Every day, he makes me go out there and shoot, even if I don’t feel like doing it.
“I’ll take 150 to 250 shots a day, shoot 100 free throws. I’m averaging 87 to 93 percent at the foul line out there.”
Robby said he mostly has to work on his ball-handling skills and strength right now.
He has hopes of playing college basketball down the road.
“The biggest thing I learned from that camp? You have to work hard for it. Work, work, work,” he said. “If you want it, you have to earn it.
“I was lucky to get the chance to go down there. It really opened my eyes.”