CAMP PENDLETON – Local high school basketball players visited Camp Pendleton earlier this month to practice with the All-Marine men’s basketball team, which recently won the 2023 Armed Forces Basketball Championships for the first time in two decades.
Oceanside’s El Camino High School boys basketball players were escorted to the Semper Fit Paige Fieldhouse on Camp Pendleton, where they met with several members of the All-Marine basketball team and participated in a series of drills under head coach Capt. Brandon Mitchell.
Mitchell, who also volunteers as an assistant coach for MiraCosta College’s basketball team, said the team has previously worked with college athletes, but this was the first time meeting with high school basketball players.
“We’re investing in the next generation,” Mitchell said.
The high school students listened carefully as Mitchell instructed them on what to do for each drill and demonstrated with his newly championed team.
In November, the All-Marines earned gold in the 2023 Armed Forces Basketball Championship in Georgia. It was the first time in 20 years that the team had defeated all of the other branches in the championship.
The Marines hoped to connect with their younger peers, inspiring them to keep up with their athletic abilities and to consider the military as a post-educational option.
“I think a lot of times we forget that military guys are former athletes,” Mitchell said. “Some of these guys are trying to get to where some of our guys have played; we have an opportunity to let them know that after they’re done with college, the military is not a bad option.”
Second Lt. John Carter, who plays point and shooting guard on the team and was one of the top players recognized at the championships, recalled how meaningful it was to work with older players when he was younger.
“It’s really cool because when I think of myself as a high school player, anytime older players were around helping, working out or just being in the gym, they motivated me to work harder and play better,” he said.
El Camino junior Damien Moore, who plays center on the high school basketball team, enjoyed seeing Camp Pendleton’s base for the first time and listening to Coach Mitchell’s directions.
“It’s super cool,” Moore said. “I like the coach; he’s teaching us a bunch of stuff.”
Moore noted the coach’s lessons in completing jump shots were particularly helpful for him and others on the team.
Moore said El Camino’s men’s basketball team has had a good season so far and believes they will finish out the year strong.
“We have great chemistry and everybody likes each other,” he said. “We’ll go pretty far.”