The National Basketball Association opened its very first NBA Africa Academy on Thursday May 04 in an effort to scout international talent.
Through the elite student-athlete development program for high school boys from across Africa, the NBA hopes to expand its reach to both players and audiences.
“ I mean, the academy is not just about basketball, so we’re trying to improve young men. That means academically, socially, give them leadership skills. So in order to have those traits, you have to have discipline, so we look for that. It’s kind of challenging because we’re not with them for so long, but we get a chance to speak to them individually, get to know them, get to know what makes them move, what their goals in their life are. So, discipline is important,” Roland Houston, technical director of NBA Africa said.
Twenty players from eight countries around the continent participated in a skills training camp this week at the SEED Academy in Thies, the third-largest city in Senegal.
“I see basketball as something that from my country has already taken me places. Basketball has made me meet people I have never expected to see, people I never expected to meet, people I never wished I could even shake hands with them. I shake hands with them, we laugh together, we play together. I think it’s a great thing,“Nigerian basketball player, Timothy Ighoeffe said.
The Academy has selected 12 players who will be trained by professional coaches and will have access to facilities available to elite players.
The players are happy that the NBA coaches believe in their talent.