"The main objective is not for you to leave here as Michael Jordan."
Buzz Braman makes sure everyone sitting on the gymnasium floor at Arundel High School understands this point. The boys and girls who paid $142 each to attend his week-long instructional camp aren't destined to become gravity-defying, soft drink-endorsing millionaires.
But they can learn a thing or two about shooting a basketball. Straight, and with the proper touch. And that should be enough to satisfy anyone who has ever taken aim at a rim and swore that it moved.
A former All-State point guard at Springbrook High School, Braman was busy passing along his expertise in shooting last week at his Sure Shot Basketball Camp, which attracted nearly 180 individuals ranging in age from 10 to 17.
Judging by Braman's track record, his pupils were bound to improve their marksmanship -- at the free throw line and beyond.
Braman, 38, worked as a shooting coach for the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers for three seasons before joining the Orlando Magic last year. During that time, he increased Rick Mahorn's free-throw percentage from 69 to 80 percent. Armon Gilliam went from 68 to 82 percent.
There are other success stories floating around the league, and Braman -- who played for three years at East Carolina University -- will proudly recite each one.
"People at all levels and all ages have no clue how to shoot the ball," he said. "Between the things I was taught and the things I figured out on my own, there is, without a doubt, a correct way to shoot."
His theory is simple. In order to make a shot, you have to understand how to miss one -- left or right, long or short.
"I teach people how to shoot the ball straight and judge distance correctly," he said.
Braman owned some car dealerships in Miami before selling his interests in the agencies six years ago. This was no way for someone who once sank 738 consecutive free throws to make a living.
The first person he approached for a letter of reference was longtime DeMatha basketball coach Morgan Wootten. He also contacted college basketball analyst Billy Packer. Both men were eager to help.
His initial break came at the University of Maryland, where then-freshman Brian Williams was shooting a paltry 42 percent from the line after 15 games. Volunteering his services, Braman helped Williams connect on 86 percent of his attempts through the remainder of the season.
Armed with the letters of recommendation and this testimonial, he tried to sell his services to the NBA. The response was lukewarm at best until Jimmy Lynam, then the coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, hired him to work with such high-profile names as guards Johnny Dawkins and Hersey Hawkins.
The job occupied much of his time, but it left his summers free. But not for long. For four years, he has vacated his home in Orlando to conduct the Sure Shot Basketball Camp, covering Anne Arundel, Howard and Montgomery counties.
"There isn't anybody on the planet who shoots the ball better than me with this method. If I can do it, you can do it, too," he said.
He made a believer out of Sean Ryan, who is entering his senior season at Broadneck. The 6-foot-7 center took part in a drill that closed last Thursday morning's session, and he swished both jumpers that he attempted -- including one from three-point range.
"I stopped watching the ball," he said, explaining the improvement on his shot. "[Braman] tells you to watch the rim."
Braman receives plenty of assistance at his camps from former and current college players. Vanderbilt University's Mara Cunningham, a 6-foot-3 forward/center who helped her team to the Final Four last season, has benefited from his instruction and the two summers spent working with him at the high schools.
"You get a better understanding of your shot," she said. "Everybody shoots differently; he doesn't try to make everybody shoot the exact same way. He can break it down and figure out what you did wrong and correct it."
Braman's next stop is Good Counsel High School in Silver Spring. He vows to return to Maryland next summer.