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Cascade becomes a hot spot for hoops

THE OUTLOOK: DAVID BALL - D.J. Shaw, left, and Steffen Harvey have combined for form a basketball academy at Cascade Athletic Club. Josh Jackson has saved his toughest workout for the end of the session. A drill that challenges him to drain shots on wobbly legs, mimicking crunch time on game day. He performs a defensive slide across the width of the court before charging forward and catching a pass at the 3-point arc. He fires. He has no time to waste watching his ball spin toward the hoop, instead he backpedals to the halfcourt line and begins his slide to the other side of the court. At the end of two minutes his legs are burning, but he is far from done. A whistle sounds, indicating a switch from defensive slides to flat out sprints across the court. Hustle, shoot, hustle, shoot.

“After every slide your legs are hurting, but you don't have time to miss shots — I'm really focused on never missing two in a row,” Jackson said.

Finally, another whistle, this time allowing him to replace the 3-point shot with a layup.

The horn sounds marking the end of the drill.

Jackson moves under the basket and slumps over hands on his knees, head against the wall — exhausted.

He gives himself a 10 count to catch his breath then walks to the free-throw line. He keeps his eyes down while giving the ball three bounces, then pulls his head up to sight the rim and spins the ball at the target with a flick of his wrist.

Jackson hits 10 straight — all net.

After another short break, Jackson convinces his instructors to feed him one final time.

He visits five spots along the 3-point arc, advancing only after he has knocked down 10 shots. He finishes in the baseline corner — eight straight rip the net before the ninth attempt slides off the rim. He lets out a grimace of frustration and sinks the next two, marking the end of his workout.

Jackson is entering his ninth season playing professional basketball overseas — recently signing with the Juvecaserta Club out of the Italian Serie A — the country's top level.

He has spent much of his summer at Cascade Athletic Club with trainers Steffen Harvey and D.J. Shaw preparing for the season.

“These guys have been great. Even though I've been playing for nine years, I'm still learning,” Jackson said. “I can come in here and knock down 500 shots, but at the end of the day I need to find ways to progress and take myself to that next level. Basketball is something I've done my whole life, and I'm not ready to give it up.”

Jackson averaged 17.2 points per game with another Italian squad last season.

Harvey and Shaw brought a basketball academy to Cascade Athletic Club in the spring and hosted a series of pick-up games over the summer that featured recent college graduates, pros from oversees and even a member of the NBA D-League.

“I guarantee we had the best run in the city, and word of mouth spread quickly — we had to cut off the list at 20,” Harvey said.

The Cascade duo offers instruction to all levels from pros to youth teams.

“We're not about juggling four balls at once or picking up cones — that stuff is going to catch your eye on youtube, but we leave the clown drills at home,” Shaw said. “Our crusade is to teach fundamental basketball, the things that are going to translate to the court.”

Harvey also works as an assistant coach in the Warner Pacific program, while Shaw does contract work with Nike as an emcee for special events. One of his famous drills comes from his Nike experience when he managed to sneak a look at one of Kobe Bryant's private workouts.

“We heard that he was in the building, so I left the weight room and found a side door into the gym,” Shaw said.

A well placed towel allowed him to quietly slide behind the door out of sight and watch the future Hall of Famer work out.

“It was intense, but at the end of the workout his eyes caught me in the corner and I got tossed out,” Shaw laughs.

Shaw, a St. Helens High graduate, knew at a young age that teaching basketball was in his future. As a high school student, he took out ads in the local newspaper offering lessons.

“I was 16 years old offering $10 training sessions — it was my first entrepreneurial venture and by the end of the summer I was teaching 20 kids,” he said. “The game of basketball has taken me to some amazing places. Being able to get paid to teach it has been a blessing.”

For Harvey, a Gresham High graduate, it's been about offering his hometown the same benefits that he has seen in other parts of the state.

“There are places on the westside for this, but I'm from here and I wanted to offer that kind of training here,” Harvey said. “There is a lot of talent out here, and we offer a place where they can come and develop.”