Boys basketball: Monarch grad, NBA player Amundson goes camping at Legacy High School

  • Jeremy Papasso

    NBA player Louis Amundson, a Monarch High School grad, coaches youth at a basketball camp at Legacy High School on Monday.

  • Jeremy Papasso

    NBA basketball player Louis Amundson, right, works on a dribbling drill with Rocco Bridges, 7, during a basketball camp at Legacy High School on Monday.

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Louis Amundson knows he’ll be home this week, catching up with his family, his Boulder-area buddies and hosting a basketball camp at Legacy High School.

After the camp concludes Thursday — the Louis Amundson Skills Academy — the picture grows a bit cloudy.

The Indiana Pacers forward, a former Boulder and Monarch athlete, becomes a free agent on July 1. Make no mistake. Amundson will play in the NBA next season. It’s just a matter of where.

The energetic sparkplug of a player wouldn’t mind returning to the Pacers. They advanced to the second round this season (falling in six games to the Miami Heat) and boast a young, talent-rich nucleus.

But Amundson isn’t going to lie. The thought of playing for the hometown Denver Nuggets has crept into his thoughts from time to time.

“In a lot of ways, that would be ideal,” Amundson said. “They wear other teams out and that fits into my style of play.”

Such an arrangement would be fitting, considering Amundson, 29, not only played his prep career here (he spent three seasons at Boulder before transferring to Monarch for his senior season), but kicked off his pro career locally as well.

After graduating from UNLV, Amundson played 25 games for the now-defunct Colorado 14ers of the NBA D-League in the 2006-07 season. After a brief one-game cameo with the Utah Jazz, Amundson was called up again by the Philadelphia 76ers and has stuck in the NBA ever since.

He has spent time with the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors before signing with Indiana prior to this season, where he appeared in 60 games for the Pacers. He has carved a niche as an energy player off the bench, a grinder who hustles down loose balls, aggravates opposing post players and scores in transition.

The “hustle player” label, though, has been double-edged for Amundson.

“I’m kind of wary any time that term is used,” he said. “I mean, I am a hustle player and somebody who works hard. But I think that term takes away from some of the things I can do. I work on my game all the time, work extremely hard to improve every summer.

“People see me as this role player, and people who understand basketball appreciate what I do. Casual fans might see me out there running around and think that there’s not a lot of skill involved, so it makes me uneasy when the term is thrown around. But I work to add things to my game all the time.”

The 6-foot-9, 225-pounder believes that, while he might have been a niche player in the past, he can contribute in any system at this point in his career.

“I’m pretty adaptable to different styles of play, but obviously I prefer the up-tempo style,” Amundson said. “I’m not a 40-minute-a-night-type player but I try to make an impact in the time I have.”

In most of his NBA stops, Amundson has become an instant fan favorite.

Surprised? Why would Monarch coach Ken Niven be surprised?

“He has a great work ethic along with unbelievable athleticism,” Niven said. “That’s what got him into the NBA. His energy is off the charts, and I’ve never really seen a player like him, athletically.”

Amundson’s Skills Academy began Monday at Legacy for grades 1 through 12 and will conclude with a 1 p.m.-4 p.m. session on Thursday. In the past, Amundson joined Niven, his former coach, for a camp. This season, he is doing it in conjunction with personal coach Geoff Golden.

“It’s great to be able to come back and do things for the local kids here,” Amundson said. “I remember when I was that age, any time there was a camp, I was there. I love to be able just to share a little bit of my knowledge of the game.”

 

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