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By A.J. JANKOWSKI
Daily News Sports Editor
At first glance, you wouldn’t expect Alan Voskuil to be a professional basketball player.
That is, until he pulls up behind the 3-point line and strokes a picture-perfect jump shot that swishes straight through the net.
"In my 22 years of coaching, he's the best shooter I've seen," said Eric Stockhausen, Kayhi’s boys head basketball coach and Voskuil’s youth coach. "His mechanics are flawless. It's the same thing every time."
Both know the sweat it took to make Voskuil and his mechanics successful, and both spent four days this week passing that message along to local hoopsters of all ages at the Kayhi Basketball Skills Camp.
"I'm not physically gifted," the 6-3 Voskuil said. "It all came with hard work."
Voskuil has spent the past four years carving out a basketball career overseas, and has the cluttered passport to prove it. He’s played for teams in Turkey, France, Italy, Denmark and Spain. A stint with the Danish national team also afforded him the chance to play in even more countries in Europe such as Bulgaria and Ukraine.
"I've connected with so many people throughout this world simply through a basketball," he said.
It hasn’t been easy, and Voskuil will be the first to tell you that it’s not the European vacation most assume it is.
"I'll put it this way, you really have to love what you're doing," he said. "And I absolutely love what I'm doing."
It’s a passion that started back when he was 8 years old in his hometown of Bedford, Texas. His father, who played basketball in Denmark, introduced his son to Stockhausen — a friend from when they both worked at Texas Wesleyan University.
Stockhausen coached Alan’s AAU team, and even brought Voskuil up to Alaska for a month to train after becoming the head coach at Glennallen High School.
"He was always on me about being a better basketball player, telling me what it takes," Voskuil said of Stockhausen. "He never physically forced me or pushed me, he simply told me what to do and how to do it to become a great player.
"When I come to work with Coach, I simply try to relay the message he gave me."
Although he didn’t care for Glennallen — "the mosquitoes were ridiculous" — Voskuil said the time spent under Stockhausen’s tutelage shaped him into the player he is today.
"He doesn't force anyone to be here at 8 o'clock," Voskuil said. "But he'll be here at 8 o'clock if you ask him. That's the message I've taken with me."
Voskuil went on to play four years at Texas Tech University, and led the Big 12 Conference in 3-point percentage and free-throw percentage his senior year.
Now he’s a 26-year-old professional basketball player giving back to the coach who taught him so much.
And Stockhausen’s new pupils are taking notes.
"It's a real eye-opener," said Alex Pihl, a rising junior who attended the camp. "Coming from a small little village on a rock, you think you're good. And then you see someone who is good, and you realize you've got to keep working."
The campers ranged from grades 2-12, offering fundamental drills along with live-action basketball, all while preaching that hard work needs to be a consistent focus.
For the Kings in attendance, it’s offered a chance to get an early beat on gaining chemistry for next season.
"This offseason, we're doing it all — ball-handling, shooting, rebounding," said rising senior Isaiah Navales. "We really want to win next season, so we're doing anything that we can to get ready."
According to Voskuil and Stockhausen, you don’t have to be born with all the tools to succeed in basketball.
You just need to be willing to work at them.
"Alan’s not a LeBron build — something you just can't teach," Stockhausen said. "He's not 7-3. Any one of these kids in this camp could turn out to be him, with the right motivation and effort."