Catching up with Corey Brewer: Back with ‘family’

Corey Brewer, who was on the Florida 2006 and 2007 National Championship Basketball teams and now has played more than 10 years in the NBA, jokes with camper Dylan Gaffney, 15, during the Corey Brewer Back2Back Basketball Camp at the Santa Fe College gym Thursday. Brewer has held this skills camp, which benefits diabetes research, in Gainesville for youth basketball players for ten years. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Former Florida men’s basketball star Corey Brewer is back in Gainesville hosting his 10th Back2Back Basketball Camp at Santa Fe College. All proceeds from the camp are donated to the Corey Brewer Fight Diabetes Fund at the UF Diabetes Institute. Brewer will host a parent/child camp Saturday at 9 a.m. After instructing more than 130 campers, Brewer dished with The Gainesville Sun on the Gators, the NBA, dropping 50+ with 6 steals in a game, and life after basketball.

For those who don’t know you, what motivates you each year to keep hosting the Corey Brewer camp? Now in its 10th year, is there anything you add or change?

Brewer: “Just coming back to Gainesville is always special to me, but this camp is going on 10 years now. It’s become part of my whole routine. Like, these kids are like family to me. Some kids, they’ve been coming for the last 10 years. I was just joking with one of them, I was like ‘Yo, you have a lot of pictures of me in your house!’ and they said ‘Yeah, they’re all in my room’. So, it’s crazy, but it’s just good for me, I think it’s good for the kids, and just giving back to diabetes research and UF Health, it’s great.”

The consensus seems to be the transfer portal has had mixed results when it comes to college football, have you been paying attention to it? If so, how do you think the transfer portal could change college basketball recruiting?

Brewer: “It definitely affects it, and it’s tough. Now it gives people more freedom if they don’t like the situation they were in, stuff like that. I just remember back when I played — you go somewhere and that’s where you’ve got to stay, unless you want to sit out. But it works both ways, you have to take the good with the bad.”

Duke became the first program to have three top-10 picks since you, Al Horford and Joakim Noah were drafted in 2007. What are your thoughts on Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish?

Brewer: “I think it’s cool. For it not to happen for 12 years is amazing, but I’m happy for those guys. I think they’re really talented. Cam Reddish can really shoot it, really play. RJ’s going to be a star, and everybody knows Zion Williamson is just amazing, he’s just a freak, so I think those guys are great. Don’t forget, they had top-10, we had top-9 (laughs). They’re great though, I think all three of them will be great pros.”

Two-parter for you here. You’re one of four players in history to score 50+ points in an NBA game while recording 6+ steals. Do you still think about that night, and what’s it like to have accomplished what only Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson and Rick Barry have done? And if that’s not your favorite NBA memory to date, what is?

Brewer: “It’s one of my favorite memories, for sure. Anytime you score 50 in the NBA, but when I won the championship in Dallas in 2011, that was amazing. Houston, we went to the Western Conference Finals and I think Game 6 of the Semifinals (in 2014) I had a crazy game, so I have some good memories.”

Which NBA player was the toughest you’ve had to defend, and why?

Brewer: “I’ve had some tough match-ups, so I always say to people whenever they say ‘This guy’s good, and this guy’s great’, I caught Kobe (Bryant) when Kobe was in his prime and he’s probably the toughest to guard. Just his mentality.”

Your ability to play at a high level at both ends of the floor was still readily apparent this season after the Kings signed you just after the All-Star break. What do you focus on each offseason to continue playing professionally, and do you see yourself returning to the court for a 13th season?

Brewer: “I’m staying ready, I’ve been working on my jumpshot a lot. You’ve got to be able to shoot these days to stay in the league. Been working on my body, just trying to get stronger and try to keep at it. I still got years left, I can still play. Hopefully, I can get in a good situation and show people I can still play.”

With that said, have you thought about your next step after your playing career?

Brewer: “Basketball will always be a part of me, but, I have two kids, so I spend a lot of time with those guys. But I think I like coaching. I just like being around kids, I love this camp, and I plan on getting into coaching when I get done.”