This summer, it’s been commonplace for people to remind Kevin Huerter of his starring Game 7 performance in the NBA’s Eastern Conference semifinal series when they see him out in public.
“Definitely getting recognized a bit more in Atlanta,” Huerter said in a recent interview with The Daily Gazette. “Can’t imagine what it’ll be like when I’m home.”
Huerter will find out soon enough. The former Shenendehowa High School star will head back to the Capital Region this week, and has planned an event for Saturday at the Clifton Common basketball courts dubbed “Kevin Huerter’s 518 Hoopfest.” Registration starts Sunday at huerterbasketballcamps.com to take part in the free event’s on-court portion, which will be capped at 120 participants.
“But we’re hoping more people come out to watch, too,” said Huerter, whose event includes food options, music and an autograph signing besides the on-court activities.
Now 23 years old, Huerter averaged 11.9 points per game during his third NBA season with the Atlanta Hawks. In the playoffs, Huerter played a key role in the Hawks’ surprising run as the Eastern Conference’s fifth seed to the conference finals. He averaged 11.1 points per game in the playoffs, and registered a team-high 27 points in the Hawks’ Game 7 win against the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Huerter said the Hawks’ run “was a lot of fun,” but not one that surprised the team. While a young team led by a young star in Trae Young, Huerter said the Hawks weren’t simply happy to be in the postseason after the franchise had experienced three losing seasons prior to the 2020-21 campaign.
“In our locker room, it was: Why not this year?” said Huerter, whose team’s season ended with a loss in the Eastern Conference finals to the Milwaukee Bucks, which later won the NBA championship.
Huerter, who won state championships in basketball and baseball during his years at Shenendehowa, said it’s been “a daily thing” this summer for people to bring up his Game 7 performance against the 76ers.
With a laugh, Huerter said that’s OK with him.
“That’s not a bad thing to be remembered by,” Huerter said.
Huerter announced next weekend’s event earlier this month via social media. He said he has wanted to start up a full basketball camp in the Capital Region, but that plan was postponed in 2020 because of restrictions related to the novel coronavirus pandemic and then delayed again this year because of the Hawks’ season extending into early July.
“But I still wanted to do something this year,” Huerter said. “So I thought this event was a way to see everyone all in one spot, but also have a camp-like atmosphere.”
Huerter said he intends to start offering local camps next summer. Those camps, he said, are planned to take place at the Impact Athletic Center in Halfmoon; Huerter is one of the investors in that sports and community center, which Huerter said should open this fall.
Next Saturday’s event is scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon.