By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
ANOTHER group of young basketball players took full advantage of their opportunity to boost their recruitment stock at the Darrell Sears Showcase but the event could look to expand beyond the basketball court for future editions.
Sears, the longtime coach of the St George's Jaguars, said that while many student athletes earned opportunities through basketball, the personnel of the participants and their skillset may provide further opportunities on the football field.
"The showcase started off a little rocky, but as always the coaches enjoyed it. Like I said, we had two official offers yesterday. We had a lot of kids get opportunities to even look at playing football now. So we're branching off. The showcase could be moving into some football to try and give kids a better opportunity." Sears said.
"We have a lot of kids who are undersized. Here, they could be 6 foot four inches (6'4") and play power forward, they may not progress to be a guard (in college), because the skill-set is not there. But they can go and play football, because they are so athletic and can get a scholarship in football. So we're branching off and we're going to start with girls again next year, boys and then football."
Two participants at this year's event, Troy Trembly and Lathaniel Bastian, received offers while a host of other athletes received interest from colleges and high schools.
This year's showcase also expanded on the court as well and featured the promising group of junior players in grades 7-9.
"The younger group is what the coaches were excited about. That's why we wanted them to come in so we could make those coaches come back. You had so many of these kids who are younger, even someone who is out of school, never played high school, picked up and offered a scholarship.
"This is a kid who is playing night league, we decided at the last minute to give him a chance because that's what the showcase is about, giving them an opportunity." Sears said.
"We have some of the most naturally gifted players in the world. I've said the coaching has gotten better over the years, I've seen it. The coaches are getting better so they're teaching their kids better. So the skill-set is starting to get better. But what we're excited about is that it will bring these coaches back to see just how much they have improved since then. The more coaches we can get in the better it is for our programme and our kids."
Sears began the practice of travelling with his players to the US to gain exposure for his players in the late 1990s. Since then, he has been able to forge a network of connections that now affords a greater number of players those same opportunities by showcasing their skills at home. Over the course of the weekend, players engaged in individual skill development, as well as scrimmages.
Since its inception, the showcase has facilitated over $2 million in scholarships to over 100 student athletes to attend various levels of colleges and high schools in the United States.
Event sponsors included the Freeport Council, Nesbitt Rentals, Kosha and the Ministry of Tourism.
At the end of the 2017 event, a record five participants were offered scholarships by representatives of visiting programmes.
Approximately 60 players took part in the showcase which featured scouts, coaches, and representatives from 25 high schools and colleges in the United States, ranging from JuCo to Division I.