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May 7, 2013

Young basketball players return from King James Classic

A contingent of young Belizean athletes has returned to the jewel after playing friendly games against US high school basketball teams. While the host teams were more experienced in techniques, the local athletes also proved their mettle on the basketball courts. On hand were recruiters looking for potential talent. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A team of high school athletes from Belize City recently participated in the third annual King James Shooting Stars Classic basketball tournament in Akron, Ohio.  There, the group consisting of mostly third form students, played against other traveling amateur basketball teams categorized into brackets according to their ages.  Leading the Belizean delegation was Coach Bernie Tarr.

 

Bernie Tarr, Head Coach, Team Belize

Bernie Tarr

“It was a ten-day trip and it wasn’t just about the LeBron James tournament itself, it was a whole spectrum of things where our players got a chance to visit universities, colleges, high schools, where they shadowed at two high schools.  Last year we only shadowed at one high school.”

 

Hosted primarily at The University of Akron, the delegation also had a chance to visit Kent State University.  Throughout the tournament coaches and scouts from more than two hundred different colleges were on hand to evaluate players as future recruits.

 

Stephen Williams, Assistant Coach, Team Belize

“They went out and played their best.  They were well prepared here by coach Tarr and myself and the other assistant coaches on the trip.”

 

Stephen Williams

But playing on the hardwood before a diverse audience of fans, professional athletes and college officials was no easy feat.  After all it was a far cry from the Birds Isle, where they spent hours practicing prior to their departure.

 

Stephen Williams

“They met guys that are in a system from probably the age of six years old, so when it came to the skill set and the strength factor we slacked off a little and that’s where some of the other teams got a better hand on us, you know.”

 

In Akron alone, there were five hundred and fifty-two teams of nationally top-ranked players.  The tournament was a revolving door where teams competed against each other to fulfill a hectic schedule.

 

Bernie Tarr

“There’s forty-five games, there’s ninety teams in the tournament so everybody plays one game.  The winning team goes to the gold division, the losing team goes to the bronze division.  The team that beat us Friday night, Team Spice, ended up winning the gold tournament so they ended up being the best team in the tournament.  From there we were placed in the bronze tournament for Saturday.  We actually had two forfeit wins on Saturday because when you sign up for the King James Classic it’s certified through the NCAA so you have to do a lot of proper paperwork, register all our players to the NCAA and then register them to the King James Classic.  It all has to mesh together.  So those two teams had some, you know, whatever issues they had they were eliminated from the tournament.  So we did play friendly games.  I had the choice to play a weaker team or a strong team so we decided to play a stronger team.”

 

And while Team Belize did not succeed in that endeavor the exposure for our young athletes is invaluable.  Among our successful talents thus far is Devin Daly.  He is currently a student at Lake Superior State University in Michigan on an athletic scholarship.

 

Devin Daly, Belizean Student Athlete

“The experience has definitely been, you know, a big one for me.  It just opened my eyes to, you know, how many people are actually in the world, how many people are, you know, going to school, how many people can actually be in a college and how many people actually play basketball and are interested in playing the sport.”

 

An SJC alumnus, Devin is pursuing academic studies while balancing his athletic interest.

 

Devin Daly

Devin Daly

“First of all, I study Marine Biology in the Fisheries and Wildlife Program and, you know, what that helps me to do is that it shows me what my real passion is in terms of the academic side and it just, you know, I just learned about so many different things that I didn’t even imagine about knowing and it just opened my eyes to what I really want to do in terms of work, you know, if nothing happens for me in the pros.”

 

The King James tournament is organized by the Northeast Ohio Basketball Association, founded by Dru Joyce II.  Joyce coached LeBron James from the age of ten through to his high school career. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

 

It’s the third LeBron James Classic that Belize has participated in.

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1 Response for “Young basketball players return from King James Classic”

  1. Storm says:

    I apreciate that students from our tiny country are given a chance to go for the gold, and try to earn a first-class college education in the States through athletic competition. For the elite, successful students, it gives a chance to change their lives forever in the best way possible, by getting educated. I’d like to hear more from Devin Daly about how it changed his life, he could be a role model for other young Belizeans.

    The Chinese have a pretty wise culture, and they have a saying that goes, “Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.”

    Best of luck to all of our athletes!

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