Sixty boys and girls from all over the region descended on the JSC Sports Complex yesterday as they were given the opportunity to wow NBA coaches in the 4th Digicel NBA Jumpstart Programme.
Digicel will then choose the top 14 players from the Elite Camp – eight boys and six girls – who will be invited to participate in an authentic NBA experience in the U.S. later this year. Children under 16 came from Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat and St. Kitts & Nevis to showcase their talents.
“We asked them for attitude and effort and they gave us both things,” commended Senior Director-Basketball Operations International at NBA, coach Troy Justice.
“We’re looking for the capacity to learn,” he went on.
“Secondly, just kinda the character aspects of the game – work ethic, teamwork, sportsmanship – so we’re looking for those aspects as well as we’re teaching the fundamentals of the game.”
“And then finally, that’s it, we’re working on the fundamentals. We really want them to master the fundamentals.”
The group was divided into U14 and U16 players and NBA coaches, NBA international basketball operations staff and top Caribbean coaches, led the them through a variety of activities on and off the court including: individual player development; 5-on-5 games; life skills education and more.
“We’re all here for the love of the game,” associate head coach for the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks Kaleb Canales encouraged the group of sixty.
“We’re going to create good habits with you guys today with fundamentals. Today what I’m gonna help you guys with skill-wise is exactly what we help our guys in the NBA with. So every drill we do, we do it with our team. So what we’re teaching, before the drill, after the drill, all we’re asking you guys today is for your attention and hard work.”
Recently-appointed Minister of Sports, Daryll Michael, was very instrumental in getting the programme here in Antigua and Barbuda from inception to now its 4th year.
“I’m extremely happy,” Minister Matthew said, “to see that there are many younger children today, both boys and girls, participating in this forum.”
“I remember when we started this programme many years ago, we… thee basketball association had a number problems finding people to participate in this programme. So I’m very pleased that after three years, that this programme has proven to be not only a huge catalyst… a jump start to a lot of young players who participate.
The final sixteen players making their way to the U.S.should be chosen sometime in November of this year.