By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Four players from host BVI heard their names called among the final 13 of the 63 players from nine Caribbean countries attending three intense days of the Digicel NBA Elite Camp at the Multipurpose Sports Complex that ended on Sunday.
Four from Bermuda also advanced to an NBA authentic experience in New York, December 6-11.
Among the five girls, Shaliquah Fahie and Mahkayla Pickering of the BVI will be joined by the Barbados duo of Tower Lorde and Ivanna Odle as well as Bermuda’s Ish-Nae Smith.
The eight boys are Demoi Bradley and Omar Walker of the BVI; St. Croix born Remey Brewer of Trinidad and Tobago; Antigua and Barbuda’s Anthony Greer; Bermuda’s trio of Kobie Reid, Colin Peters and Jarel Smith and Turks and Caicos Islands’ Wilkins Sylvain.
“There was a lot of talent here—lots of talented basketball players—and it has been great to have the girls a part of this,” said Troy Justice, the NBA Sr. Director, basketball operations international. “It was hard to select the top players. It wasn’t clear cut. The talent varied on all levels. It was interesting to see how it played out.”
Justice said the selection was based on what the players did over the three days of the camp and how they performed whether they were selected or not.
“At the end of the day, all these kids were getting incredible experience,” he noted. “They learnt a lot and whether they were selected or not, that’s not the issue but rather, the experience they have gained. We had Lionel Hollins, Skylar Diggins and Robert Horry here and these kids got to learn from some of the legends and some of the best who are currently playing and I think that was amazing in itself.”
Justice said unlike in the clinics the players went through in their respective countries last month, they put in a camp offense and five set plays used NBA players. He added that a lot of NBA teams are using the sets to get into things.
“What they were doing here, they’ll see on television when the NBA season starts in the next couple weeks,” he pointed out. “So, we gave them those kind of things and shared that information with them. And, because this was an elite camp, we did things we haven’t done in our national camps. We wanted to stretch them out of their comfort zone, take them out of their box, make them fail, because if they fail, they’re going to learn a lot more.”
Last year, two BVI players made the trip to New York
“I felt very amazing, awesome, excited,” Pickering described after hearing her name called. “I worked very hard for this and it’s extremely special. Now I’m not only showcasing my talent in the BVI, but to play for scouts and other people that can help me be a better player.”
Fahie said she wasn’t totally surprised. “This means a lot because I worked hard,” she said. “My dribbling, shooting, the way I played on defense and rebounding, I was good in all areas.”
Bradley was surprised to hear his name called. “I thought that there were other players working as hard as me and I thought they would have gotten picked over me,” he said. “I’m looking forward to a good experience.”
Walker too was surprised. “Yes I was. There was a lot of talent, people working just as hard as me, some even harder,” he stated. “I think I was one of the people who played my role on the court and did what I was told to do.”
Justice said it was an excellent camp. The ethics of the kids was great, the effort they brought—diving on the floor for loose balls—and they played really hard.
“The biggest thing is we were trying to coach them up on fine tuning all the technical details,” he noted. “The need to get better with the fundamentals still and they always will have to do that, keep working on them.”