DeMarre Carroll hosts sixth annual "Next Level" camp

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COLUMBIA - Former Missouri Tigers basketball player DeMarre Carroll hosted his "Next Level" camp for kids Tuesday.

Carroll said this is his sixth camp he's put on for Columbia youth. He hosted it this year at Father Tolton Catholic High School, with the help of several Tolton coaches and friends. The camp focused mainly on developing players' skills on defense.

"Defense is important, and it's a big part of my game," Carroll, whose style of play earned him the nickname "The Junkyard Dog", said. "Defense can be your calling card one day, especially when you make it to the NBA."

Carroll led the NBA's Atlanta Hawks to the best record in the Eastern Conference this past season. After the Cleveland Cavaliers swept the Hawks in the Conference Finals, Carroll signed a four year, $60 million deal with the Toronto Raptors. 

"A lot of people ask me, 'Why Toronto?'" Carroll said. "It's already a winning program. It's a great program great organization. The fan base there is amazing. It kind of reminds me of the Mizzou fans."

The Missouri Tigers made the Elite 8 of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament during the 2008-2009 season, when Carroll was a senior. The team won the Big 12 Tournament for the first time in school history, as well.

Carroll spent most of Tuesday morning behind the scenes, shopping for snacks for his campers. He also ordered food from Stadium Grill. Later in the day, Carroll both watched and participated in drills. He even played one-on-one basketball with a few children.

"I'm going to continue to keep doing it, and I'm going to keep giving back to the community of Columbia, Missouri," Carroll said.

Carroll said he's about to launch a new website for his foundation,, to raise money for liver disease research. Carroll has a liver disease which he said will not affect him until later in life. He found out about his condition while he was playing at Missouri.

The camp runs through Thursday, July 24.