Bahamian coaches at this year's Basketball Without Borders Camp.
By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
THE 2017 Basketball Without Borders Americas Camp was a tremendous benefit to the participants on the court, but the NBA and FIBA were also intent on the development of the local game as well.
In addition to the four days of tutelage for the six student-athletes, the event also featured clinics for local coaches and referees at the conclusion of each day's session.
Junior national team head coach Quentin Hall said it was an eye-opening experience for the local coaches who were afforded the opportunity to participate. "They didn't go over that much because we had limited time but basically we got to see people at a pretty high level do a lot of the same things that we do and that we teach here so it just helps us to reinforce what we are doing and work even harder to develop our players."
Current NBA assistant coaches James Borrego (San Antonio Spurs), Jim Boylan (Cleveland Cavaliers), Darvin Ham (Atlanta Hawks) and David Vanterpool (Portland Trail Blazers) served as BWB Americas coaches. Patrick Hunt (President of the World Association of Basketball Coaches; Australia) and Ronald Cass (FIBA Coach) were camp directors for the boys and girls, respectively.
Said Nigel Ingraham, a member of the national team coaching staff: "It helps the federation because the coaches came out to get pointers on both sides of the ball. What we have to do to move basketball in this country is ban zone play for under-16. You just can't learn the game of basketball playing zone," he said.
"I think the whole structure needs to focus on the vision for these kids, come together and put it together. All we are lacking is unity with coaches to see where we are weak and where we can be stronger to push these kids together for the future."
A staff of Bahamian officials refereed each game of the camp. The referee clinics were conducted by Bernie Fryer, current vice president and director of officials for the NBA. Fryer was a player in the NBA and ABA before serving as a referee from 1978-2007.
Christian Wilmore is the youngest ever and first Bahamian to officiate a FIBA world championship and has officiated two world championships in three years on the circuit.
He said the inclusion of the referees' clinic will continue to pay dividends.
"It's a vote of confidence in us and it means a lot to me because we have been doing a lot to improve officiating in the Bahamas and I think the word is getting around. We have Summer of Thunder every year with top teams and we have an opportunity to officiate those games and I think we have referees in the Bahamas that can operate at every level of basketball," he said.
"For us we are happy to have the opportunity to work with the NBA so we can learn and improve. We watched film, like players do, to work on court positioning, the basics of refereeing, talked about areas that we improve and things that they look for if you aspire to climb the ranks in officiating, so it was definitely a beneficial experience."
Wilmore has refereed in Russia at the FIBA Under-19 World Cup for Women. In 2012, he became the second-youngest official in the history of FIBA.
He was the youngest to ever do so in the Western Hemisphere, at the age of 18. Since becoming an international referee, Wilmore has travelled extensively. His first international tournament took him to Uruguay in the summer of 2013 for a World Cup qualifier.
In June of 2014, Wilmore became the youngest person to ever officiate a FIBA World Cup when he travelled to the Czech Republic for the Under-17 FIBA World Cup for Women.
"I think they [the Bahamian players] get to see the work ethic of players that play at a high level and they get to see basketball at a different approach. They also see the difference and importance of conditioning, nutritioning and dieting, some things we don't focus on in the Bahamas. If you want to really be successful, you're not competing with these schools in your divisions, but you're competing against players from all over the world with the same dreams so it takes a tremendous amount of effort to get to where you want to go with the game," Wilmore said.
Kimberly Bohuny, NBA senior vice president of International Basketball Operations, said it was important for the organisation to make a local impact.
"For one, we have the referee clinic. We have one or two young talented officials here who Bernie Fryer (who ran the clinic) had a chance to see. We had 50 coaches at the coaches' clinic, and everyone walked away very happy with what they had learned at the camp. You have to 'train the trainers' because they are the ones to help develop the game here," she said.