PIKEVILLE – Two free basketball camps featuring former University of Kentucky star Jeff Sheppard are coming to Pike County on Tuesday, June 29.

These interactive camp programs, open to all school-age youth, tip off at 11 a.m. at Phelps High School and 4 p.m. at East Ridge High School. Participants are asked to arrive about 30 minutes early to register.

Presented by Phoenix Products, the three-hour Shoot Hoops Not Drugs camps teach youth fundamental basketball skills while emphasizing the importance for them to stay drug-free.

All participants will receive a special event basketball, T-shirt and be eligible to win one of two portable basketball goals to be given away at each camp. Hotdogs and water will be provided.

“We’re excited to be able to bring these camps to Pike County,” said Karen Engle, UNITE director. “Shoot Hoops camps are fun and provide a safe, drug-free activity where children get to interact with positive role models while learning fundamental basketball skills.”

Residents of WestCare’s treatment facility in Pike County have volunteered to assist with these camps — and other UNITE youth programs — for the past five years, Engle noted. “The energy and excitement they bring is incredible and shows others it is never too late to turn your life around.”

Because of the physical nature of the program, participants are asked not to wear open-toe shoes or sandals.

As a senior at the University of Kentucky, Sheppard was named the NCAA’s Final Four Most Valuable Player in the Wildcats’ 1997-98 National Championship season. He would later go on to play one season with the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks and 3 years in Italy.

In addition to the basketball clinic, UNITE will offer a brief education program for parents and care-givers on the signs, symptoms and danger of drugs.

Shoot Hoops Not Drugs camps have already been held in Perry and Leslie counties. In addition to Pike County, remaining camps will be held on June 28 in Estill County, July 8 in Jackson County, and July 15 in Knott County.

Other sponsors for UNITE’s 2010 Shoot Hoops Not Drugs basketball tour include: Jackson Energy, Knott County SportsPlex, Knott Drug Abuse Council, Pikeville Medical Center, Senture, SouthEast Telephone and Walmart.

Since 2006 the camps have drawn 3,640 youth participants from 50 Kentucky counties, 10 other states and Mexico.