STAMFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Dozens of children at Stamford’s Boys and Girls Club had the chance to learn the game of basketball from some of their heroes.   

The UConn men’s basketball team led a clinic Sunday for young hoop stars ages 7 to 14. 

“It feels amazing,” said UConn men’s basketball forward Alex Karaban. “I think that’s something we want to do, using basketball to give back to the community. I always say it’s bigger than basketball, so just being able to give back and inspire the young kids, especially in this state, that look up to UConn. It’s awesome. It’s definitely a great feeling.”  

The 2023 NCAA national champions are partnering with Bleeding Blue for Good, a nonprofit supporting college athletes with name, image, and likeness deals, known as NIL deals.  

It’s all the rage in collegiate sports, where student-athletes make money from their name and brand. 

John Malfettone, Bleeding Blue’s president, says it’s vital to pair compensating student-athletes with charities like the Boys and Girls Club.   

“We need the compensation for UConn sports to maintain its competitive edge,” Malfettone said. “But the charitable aspect, we think, is important to our donors. And I believe it’s important because I’ve been involved with charities my whole life.” 

Malfettone says for student-athletes to get paid, they must do charitable service to support inner cities.  

Sunday’s clinic in Stamford was the fifth Bleeding Blue event this year, including Waterbury, Hartford, and Bridgeport. 

The three-hour clinics include hands-on activities and then discussions with the kid”. 

“For [the kids] to walk away knowing that they learned something and that we made their day, made their year; they may not have an opportunity like this ever again,” said Donovan Clingan, UCmen’sen’s basketball center.  

Malfettone says he hopes more children have opportunities, and it’s difficult to tell where NILs are heading in college sports. Bleeding Blue strives to make an impact on college players in Connecticut’s communities.

“Over the next two years, we will continue to g”ow,” Malfettone sa”d. “Most of our money came from private donations. We’re starting to get into corporate sponsorships. And then, at least, we’re starting to run events as a way to raise some money.”