India gets its first NBA residential academy

The academy will have 21 players, who have been selected after stringent trials across the country followed by a national camp.

Mark Tatum and Yannick Colaco greet the trainees of the NBA Academy.   -  Special Arrangement

After gauging the Indian basketball talent from 2011, reaching a few million players especially in schools and colleges across the country, the National Basketball Association (NBA) took another constructivestep forward by announcing the NBA Academy India at the Jaypee Greens Integrated Sports Complex here on Monday.

The NBA Deputy Commissioner, Mark Tatum, who had invited Satnam Singh on stage when he was drafted into the NBA in the US in 2015, inaugurated the ‘world class’ residential facility by lighting up the lamp along with the Managing Director of NBA India, Yannick Colaco.

All the 21 players who had been selected after stringent trials across the country followed by a national camp, went through the drill on court under the supervision of Technical Director, Ray Farrell and the team manager Shiv Kumar.

The academy, with a wholistic approach towards the development of the trainees, in terms of their game, personality and education, will cater to 24 athletes.

“We have kept three spots as reserve. Our focus is to help these players realise their potential. Some of them may go on to play division-1, 2, college and the NBA development league’’, said Mark Tatum.

The NBA Deputy Commissioner said that India was viewed as a good market, and that was the reason why the NBA decided to set up an academy, in the first year of such a venture.

“We have three academies in China, one in Africa and one in Australia’’, said Mark Tatum, even as he categorically stated that the focus was purely on development of the game, rather than look at the commercial side of the venture, as far as the academy was concerned.

While all the NBA academies will have women players as well, it will take some more time in the Indian context to have a residential training scheme for them.

“Jennifer Azzi will look after the girls’ programme. Initially, we will work with the national women’s team and also host camps for women. At some point we will have residential programme for women’’, said Tatum.

With players selected in the age group of 12 to 17 years, from across the country, the NBA Deputy Commissioner felt that there was a lot of scope to work on skill level and ability. He hoped that some day, a player from the academy would make the NBA.

Some of them may stay for only one year, and some continue for long, depending on the way they evolve in the academy.

The former professional player and NBA scout, Jacques Vandescure, will be the strength and conditioning coach.

The NBA has launched academies in Hanghzou, JInan and Urumqi in China, Thies in Senegal, and has planned to open the Global Academy in Canberra, Australia.

Apart from NBA-level coaching, the trainees will have opportunities to compete in international tournaments and exhibition games.

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