D.J. Augustin continues to invest in Brother Martin, New Orleans
NEW ORLEANS – Investing in those who invested in you.
For D.J. Augustin, the concept lives on.
The New Orleans native and former Brother Martin star returned home to Gentilly this week to host his ninth annual D.J. Augustin Basketball Camp for boys ages 8-15 at Bob Conlin Gymnasium.
Each day, over 100 youngsters were present to receive instruction from a number of outstanding coaches, free of charge.
“I love the camp and cannot see it not continuing for years to come,” Augustin said. “We want as many as possible to participate. That is why it is free. They don’t have to worry about a thing, just to come and have fun. We have guest speakers and prizes every day. We good instructors.”
Continuity has been the key to the success of the camp.
“Everyone here has been here from day one of the camp,” Augustin said. “It’s a family environment. The older kids get more out of it than the younger kids. The fun thing for me is watching these kids grow up. I’ve watched some of them grow from youngsters to maturity as teens.
Augustin was part of a special era in the rich history of Brother Martin basketball. As a freshman, Augustin was part of a team that reached the Class 5A state championship game, losing 80-63 to Woodlawn of Baton Rouge.
As a sophomore, Augustin helped lead the Crusaders to the LHSAA Class 5A state championship, defeating Catholic League rival St. Augustine 48-47 in the title game.
As a junior, Augustin was the star as Brother Martin whipped Thibodaux 86-70 for their second consecutive Class 5A championship.
With a host of great talent returning, the Crusaders and Augustin appeared poised to win a third straight title until Hurricane Katrina intervened.
Without Augustin, Brother Martin lost 68-62 in the opening round of the 2006 playoffs to Ellender.
“I think about how we could have won three straight, if not four straight state championships all the time,” Augustin said. “I was showing somebody around, showing him our trophy cases and I was telling him how we could have had a dynasty here. We still had a great run, great seasons here at Brother Martin.”
The Crusaders had a terrific team in Augustin’s last year as a player at Brother Martin (2004-05), which included college signees in seniors Corey Bloom and Ryan Brock, along with fellow junior Courtney Wallace under head coach John Lavie. Steve “Deuce” Martin was a sophomore.
Assistant coaches Scott Thompson and Bill Gallagher would eventually serve as head coaches at the school.
With many scattering around the country and with Brother Martin incurring some water damage, Augustin and his family relocated to Texas, where he played his senior season at Hightower High School in Missouri City. Augustin earned McDonald’s All-American honors.
Wallace departed as well and spent his senior year at Woodlawn of Baton Rouge. Woodlawn lost in the 2006 state championship to Al Collins and his John Ehret Patriots.
Though he excelled in Texas, Augustin returned to New Orleans to earn his diploma from Brother Martin.
Now, he is home again with his camp.
“It feels great again, just to see old faces, where I went to school, where it all started for me,” Augustin said.
The memories of his time at Brother Martin live on.
“We were able to take this program from a team that people didn’t look at as a competitor and changing the culture,” Augustin said. “We got people talking about Brother Martin and it is a great feeling to be a part of that.”
Never known for his height or weight, Augustin has had to prove himself, to earn his way on the floor at every level.
He has done so in the NBA with Charlotte, Indiana, Toronto, Chicago, Detroit, Oklahoma City, Denver and now, Orlando, where he is entering his second season with three years left on his contract. Augustin has averaged 9.5 points and 3.8 assists while shooting 37 percent from 3-point range in his fine career.
“I always relished, welcomed the challenge,” Augustin said. “It’s a blessing. This is my tenth year in the league coming up. I never let my size affect me. I never listened to what people said. I always believed in myself and my ability. That’s what I try to tell these kids at my camp.”
The Magic missed the playoffs, going 29-53 a year ago but figure to be improved in the weaker Eastern Conference in 2017-18.
“We’re a really young team, trying to develop our young guys and try to win some games and make it to the playoffs,” Augustin said. “That’s our biggest goal, going to the playoffs.”
With Golden State having won two of the last three NBA championships and with no end of their dynasty in sight, is that a good thing for the league as a whole?
“KD (Kevin Durant) is one of my good friends and I’m very happy for him,” Augustin said. “They have a great team. At the end of the day, we all have to worry about our own individual team to challenge them, to try to get better and try to compete with them and anybody in the NBA. That is our job.”
Augustin always enjoys returning to New Orleans to face the Pelicans.
“I love coming back, just to touch the ground here, to just get that feeling of getting back into New Orleans, to eat the food and to see familiar faces,” Augustin said. “It’s always a great feeling and it always feels like I’m home.”
The banners of championship teams remain attached to the walls of Conlin Gymnasium, including the two championship teams Augustin was part of.
“I always look for them and look at them,” Augustin said. “It is great to see your name and your team up there as part of the history of the school and basketball program. I will always be a Crusader.”
Augustin is committed to the investment he is making in the youth of New Orleans.
“I remember what it was like to be young and to look up to people,” Augustin said. “I have three children, ages one, three and five now so I can really appreciate it.”
Suffice it to say that the investment is reaping huge dividends.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…