Jeremy Lin was the hottest commodity in the National Basketball Association in 2012.
Lin, the first American of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA, was thrust into the starting lineup due to injury and unexpectedly led the New York Knicks to a dramatic turnaround. The 6-foot-3 guard sparked a global craze known as "Linsanity."
Basketball fans might spot Lin around Annapolis this week as he will be in town with his current NBA team, the Brooklyn Nets. In what has been a very well kept secret, the Nets will conduct their training camp at the Naval Academy this week.
Lin, the starting point guard, is the most recognizable member of the Nets. Wing guard D'Angelo Russell, the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers, is the team's other star player.
"It will be neat for our players to have a chance to rub elbows with Jeremy Lin and D'Angelo Russell," Navy men's basketball coach Ed DeChellis said.
Fans hoping to get a glimpse of the Nets will be disappointed if they go to the Naval Academy. All practices are closed and there will be security to ensure no one wanders into the Halsey Field House gym.
Jordan Ott, an assistant coach with the Nets, served as the video coordinator for Penn State men's basketball when DeChellis was head coach there. Ott reached out to DeChellis and asked about the possibility of Brooklyn holding training camp at the academy.
DeChellis obtained permission from Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk and other Naval Academy administrators. Having gotten the green light to proceed, the Nets sent two staff members — Director of Player Performance Zach Weatherford and Director of Player Personnel Ryan Gisriel — to the Naval Academy to inspect the basketball facilities.
Weatherford had previously worked as human performance manager at the Naval Special Warfare Command. DeChellis believes it was that military experience that prompted Weatherford to suggest to superiors the idea of moving training camp to the Naval Academy. Apparently, Head Coach Kenny Atkinson was gung-ho about the idea.
"I think Coach Atkinson is trying to bring a military flavor to training camp," DeChellis said. "Weatherford has a military background and spearheaded things on Nets end. They were looking get away and do something different and felt coming to the academy would be unique and a good bonding opportunity for the team."
Brooklyn is following the lead of its crosstown rival, the New York Knicks, in conducting training camp at a service academy. The Knicks spent three years having their training camp at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
The Naval Academy Athletic Association recently renovated the basketball practice facility at Halsey Field House. In addition to upgrading the gymnasium, NAAA also improved the weight room, training room and film room the men's and women's basketball teams use.
"Zach and Ryan were impressed with our facilities and felt they were up to par for an NBA team's needs," DeChellis said.
DeChellis believes Brooklyn executives made the final decision to take training camp to the Naval Academy sometime in June. However, there was no formal announcement by either the NBA franchise or the Naval Academy.
NBA rules preclude the Nets from publicizing or promoting the fact they are having training camp in Annapolis because it is within the marketing territory of the Washington Wizards. Neither the Nets nor Navy were allowed to solicit media coverage of the training camp, which will be held Tuesday through Saturday.
Gladchuk said the Nets will only be paying for expenses incurred while visiting the Naval Academy, including janitorial services, meals and similar items. Allowing the Nets to use Halsey Field House does not result in any extra cost to the academy, Gladchuk said.
DeChellis said the Nets do want their players to experience the Naval Academy as much as possible. Academy officials have set up lunch at King Hall and time at ship simulators in Luce Hall. Additionally, the players and coaches will attend Navy football practice on Wednesday at the invitation of Head Coach Ken Niumatalolo.
The Nets' entourage traveled from Brooklyn by train and was scheduled to arrive in Annapolis Monday. Cmdr. Henry Gourdine, deputy director of athletics at the Naval Academy, was scheduled to speak to the team during dinner Monday.
DeChellis said the Nets would practice at Halsey Field House during the morning hours, which would not interfere with the activities of Navy men's and women's basketball. He was hopeful the Navy basketball players would have an opportunity to stop by Halsey Field House during lunch time to watch an NBA practice.
"Hopefully, the Nets have a great experience here. We're going to do everything we can to make them feel welcome and at home," DeChellis said. "I thought this was another neat thing we could do to help enhance our program. It's a great opportunity to bring an NBA franchise to your campus. I think it's a win-win for both the Brooklyn Nets and Navy basketball."