10 selected for 2nd phase of Digicel NBA Jumpstart clinic in T&T

Senior staff reporter

Monday, May 27, 2019

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The Digicel NBA Jumpstart clinic concluded yesterday with 10 players selected for the second phase of the try-outs to be held in the twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago in July.

Six boys — Daniel Isaacs, Jaiden Brown, Donric Scott, Kyle Ottar, Flawless Travers, and Micah-Imani Swaine — made the cut, while the four girls were Tissia Parker, Britney Mitchell, Malaika Cunningham and Tajera Forbes.

Approximately 70 youngsters participated in the two-day clinic conducted by NBA coaches Derrick Alston, assistant coach of Westchester Knicks and Nathaniel Mitchell, assistant coach at NBA franchise the Charlotte Hornets.

The local players will compete with other players in order to earn a coveted pick to join the Digicel NBA Experience in New York later this year.

Campion College's 15-year-old Daniel Isaacs, who is a big fan of Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, was clearly one of the standouts.

“Right now I feel very honoured and blessed, and I have to thank God for allowing me to be chosen, and I have this opportunity and I am just very excited to go to Trinidad,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

“The camp was a fun experience, I learnt a lot of things and got to showcase my skills,” said the small forward.

Another standout, 15-year-old crowd favourite Britney Mitchell of Holy Childhood High was greeted by loud applause when her name was called as one of the Elite Team members.

“It was a very informative camp; we learnt a lot. We got the opportunity to actually speak and ask questions with NBA coaches, which a lot of persons don't get to do,” said Mitchell, who plays centre.

“I would like to go to a D1 college and play in the NCAA and also would like to go to the WNBA,” she offered.

Alston was impressed with the players and said they are comparable with the same age group in America.

“It was really good and the guys that were selected really stepped above the rest of the camp. They were very good players and worked very hard, and I am excited to follow up and see where it might take them,” said Alston, who was selected 33rd in the 1994 NBA draft and represented Philadelpha 76ers, Atlanta Hawks, Real Madrid, Boca Junior and New Zealand Breaker.

The much-travelled player standing at 6'10” also coached at Houston Rockets and served as their Player Development Coach between 2012-2015 and had James Harden and Dwight Howard under his tutelage.

The Digicel NBA Jumpstart camp also featured Jamaica's Special Olympics basketball team and Maurice Davis was excited for the invite.

“It was great, it was exciting to know that we got to learn the basketball game by professional players,” said Davis, who won World Games gold for Jamaica in 2018 and silver in 2015.

Paulton Gordon, president of the Jamaica Basketball Association (JaBA), was pleased, especially since their focus is at the youth level.

“We realised that our youngsters are not playing enough basketball at the grass-root and youth levels, so programmes like these can only enhance where we want to be,” said Gordon.

“We have two 14-year-olds in Sao Paulo, Brazil, right now on an NBA junior programme. We want to focus energies on programmes like these,” he added.

“Our Centro Under-17 tournament is July 24-28 and a high percentage of these youngsters are already in the squad. So preparation for a tournament of this nature is utmost in terms of what we want to do and the Digicel Jumpstart camp is an ideal platform for that,” said Gordon.

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