SHREVEPORT – Robert Williams III posed for a picture with each of the more than 175 campers Monday at the Robert Williams Basketball Camp held at LSUS.

The 6-foot-9 center wanted to make sure every kid who attended the basketball camp organized by Caddo Parks and Recreation had something tangible in which to remember the occasion.

“Some kids and their families have been coming for three years straight, and it’s a beautiful feeling,” said Williams, who finished his first NBA season with the Portland Trail Blazers after five years with the Boston Celtics. “It’s moments like this that make me think about my high school days and where I came from.

“Being from Oil City (and graduating from North Caddo High in Vivian), to see all these people here and to feel the love from Shreveport, it’s a great feeling to come here and feel at home.”

Kids donned a red and black chain with Portland’s nickname “Rip City” and the Blazers logo to stand next to the Caddo Parish giant. Williams printed and signed each photo.

Campers received instruction and heard messages from a host of area coaches and players, including former Bossier High coach Jeremiah Williams (two state titles), who can still get down into a proper defensive stance. More than 20 coaches and former players were on hand to conduct drills and offer fundamental basketball knowledge.

“There are some great mentors to myself and many generations to come that are here,” Williams said. “I want our campers to be around the right energy, and that starts with respect no matter what age you are.

“It’s because of guys like these that the camp is done the right way.”

Elements of Hurricane Beryl, which made landfall in Texas early Monday, weren’t able to disrupt the camp despite peppering Shreveport with rain throughout the day.

Williams aims to bring back the defensive disruption to his game after appearing in just six games in Portland this past season after suffering an injury to his right knee.

He averaged seven points, six rebounds and more than one block and steal coming off the bench, but he says he feels great after surgery more than eight months ago.

“I try not to toot my own horn, but I’m on the right track – I can’t complain,” said a bulkier Williams, who has added more muscle in the weight room than in previous seasons. “I’ve been working on improving my body in all aspects, from small intricacies in the weight room to heavy lifting.

“The older you get, you try to strengthen your body in places that you’re the weakest.”

Williams, 26, wants to get back to his NBA All-Defensive Second Team form from 2021-22 when he averaged 2.2 blocks and one steal per game with his 10 points and nearly 10 rebounds as part of a Boston team that reached the NBA Finals.

The lanky Williams towered over opponents at North Caddo High as he guided the then-Rebels to two state tournaments before playing at Texas A&M, where he was named Co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore before entering the NBA Draft.

Campers that are hungry for more basketball instruction can come back Tuesday and Wednesday for the LSUS Athletics Basketball Camp. For more information, click here.