He won’t be on the sidelines coaching any team but come NCAA Tournament time, ‘Mr. March Madness’ has a very big impact on college basketball. But you may never have
His name is Leigh Klein and he is the CEO of Five-Star Basketball Camps, known for years as the place where the nation’s top prep basketball players go to get better. Five-Star has been producing top-end talent since 1966 when Klein’s father started the camp and they count 500 NBA players and over 10,000 players at the Division I level during that stretch. Klein currently lives in Briarcliff Manor, NY where Five-Star has its headquarters.
The list of names who have put on the orange camp t-shirt include Michael Jordan, Carmelo Anthony, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Patrick Ewing and LeBron James. It is a who’s who of basketball royalty.
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Some, like Jordan, came to Five-Star as unknowns and left as stars.
“Jordan, who had two offers before Five-Star, was in no one's top 100 players until he arrived at Five-Star and after one camp session, left the #1 player in America. He's not alone,” Klein told Metro.
“Vince Carter had a similar Five-Star story. I helped Kevin Martin get to Western Carolina, I was so impressed by his camp performance that I advised then Catamount head coach Steve Shurina to offer him. That worked out fairly well as Martin was a first round draft pick and has been a prolific scorer for 12 years.”
Klein’s career began as a gym rat, where he fell in love with the family business that he would eventually take over. He remembers playing two-on-two with the likes of Pearl Washington and Ewing.
He spent time on staff at Texas and Rhode Island as an assistant following college.
This year, there will be over 100 Five-Star alumni in the NCAA Tournament, including Kansas Wayne Selden and Maryland’s Melo Trimble.
“It's always been the place ‘where the teaching never stops!’ and with that investment in the development of players on and off the court,” Klein said. “It's been able to prepare kids for the next level and enable them to reach their highest potential.”