OTTUMWA — Fans of the Indian Hills basketball team last year were introduced to J.D. Muila, a freshman star from Canada with raw talent and a huge smile.
What Warriors fans haven't seen is J.D. Muila, youth basketball coach. Parents of the campers that took part in the annual Indian Hills basketball summer camp on Wednesday saw both sides of Muila, who brought his smile and energy to helping teach campers many of the same fundamentals he has learned and has taught to players back in his home town of Ottawa.
"I'm coach a junior team back home, so this is nothing new for me," Muila said. "It's really fun. I really like working with kids. I'm going to go back to Canada next week to work with kids. I enjoy the time we're all having on the court. It makes it fun when we're all enjoying the game together."
Dozens of campers from around southern Iowa spent the day inside the Hellyer Student Life Center learning the fundamentals of basketball from instructors including Muila, who be returning for his sophomore season at IHCC after helping the Warriors advance to the second round of the NJCAA National Tournament this past March. New Indian Hills assistant coach Aaron Anderson led the camp in what proved to be an introduction for Warrior fans to the newest member of head coach Hank Plona's staff.
"I love basketball camp. I grew up going to camp all the time. Those are special memories for me," Anderson said. "I enjoy being able to give back to a community. This was kind of my first real welcome to the community. Hopefully, we get to see a lot of the faces that were out here for the camp at a lot of games this season."
Anderson comes to IHCC after stints at College of Southern Idaho and Gonzaga University. As a player, Anderson captained the team at the University of Illinois at Springfield as a senior and was a part of the first conference championship team and first national tourney squad. He was the captain of his Pontiac Township High School team for four seasons and helped lead them to their first conference title in 20 years.
"It's always fun to get kids out here to learn how to fall in love with the sport of basketball," Anderson said. "It's a small little ball that gets you to do a lot of things in life."
Plona watched as Anderson guided the IHCC summer hoops campers throughout the day, providing a bit of a break in what has been a busy offseason for the Warrior head basketball coach. Plona still has one more vacancy to fill out on his coaching staff with the departures of Nate Schmidt and Jamere Dismuskes, has been recruiting talent to make another national championship run in 2019-20 and has helped coach on the USA basketball men's U19 National team.
"We already have 10 players signed up for next year," Plona said. "We also have played the last two weekend in Des Moines (at the ICCAC showcases). We've gotten a small glimpse of what our team is going to look like and I think it's coming together pretty well."