ALTHOUGH he’s still competing at a high level in France, professional basketball player Jaraun “Kino” Burrows is doing his part to assist as many young players to realise their dreams of playing in Europe.
Through his Raw Talent Group, which he formed in the summer of 2018, Burrows has been able to assist a number of players, including Dominick ‘Nado’ Bridgewater, Kenny Isnord, Adam Johnson and Briontae Riley to achieve their dreams.
Bridgewater has been a part of the programme since its inception and is now playing in France with Burrows. Johnson joined both of them last month and Riley will be leaving on Friday.
Isnord, on the other hand, signed a three-year deal to play in the Czech Republic last month.
During his initial year, he also got a chance to work with collegiate players Kai Jones and Sammy Hunter. While Jones is in his freshman year with the Texas Longhorns, Hunter is preparing for his sophomore year with the Ole Miss Rebels.
When he realised the difficulty some of the local players had getting them off to school, Burrows said he decided to invite them to train with him and the mentorship programme started.
“Along with the training and the development, Raw Talent is also about facilitating opportunities for young men and women to broaden their horizons, while continuing their basketball abroad in Europe with the hopes of playing professionally at the highest level,” Burrows said.
While he has been able to work specifically with the five players mentioned above, Burrows said he’s looking at avenues to continue to provide more opportunities for others to pursue their dreams.
“This programme is all about relationships and partnerships, so I want to continue to do my part,” he said. “I want to work with youth coaches and high school coaches and night league coaches and eventually branch out into the Caribbean.
“So while I’m continuing to play at a high level in Europe, I want to create contacts and partnerships and opportunities because it’s proven that with the right mentorship and partnership, our kids can excel.”
For the past 12 years playing in Europe, Burrows said he’s always inspired when he comes home and the younger players reach out to him. That was one of the motivational factors in him getting the programme off the ground.
“When you see the difficulties that they have in getting visas and other stuff to get off, it’s a process,” Burrows said. “I didn’t have that in my day. My grandmother would take me and the day you pick up your visa.
“Now when these guys get their scholarships and for whatever reasons, financial or educational hardships, they are denied over and over, so to have this opportunity to go to Europe and still be able to dream about the possibility of getting into the NBA though the D-League.”
Burrows said Bahamians should be excited because there are so many players who can get the opportunity to fulfil their dreams as he did over the past decade in six different countries.
“I’ve had a lot of memorable occasions, including my MVP season in Sweden, which enabled me to enhance my résumé to get into the Pro League here in France where I am now showing my skills.”
During his tenure in Europe, Burrows had the pleasure of playing against fellow Bahamian national team members Michael Carey and Zane Knowles, which he was successful in each match-up.
But after a gruelling grind of playing for about 10 months a year, Burrows said it’s taking its toll on his body and every summer, he evaluates his future as a pro player.
“I’ve done about 10 consecutive years playing on the senior national team and I’ve had the opportunity to watch as we evolve with more sponsorship coming from corporate Bahamas,” he stated.
“With our performances over the last few years, I’ve enjoyed going into the Dominican Republic and berating them in front of their 10,000-plus fans and then coming home last year at Atlantis when we beat Mexico. We showed that we could perform on the stage like that.”
With the direction that the Bahamas Basketball Federation, under president Mario Bowleg, is going, Burrows said he feels the country has the ability to qualify for the Olympic Games in the near future.
As for his future aspirations after basketball, Burrows said he definitely wants to continue in the sport, working directly with his Raw Talent programme and if the opportunity arises to assist at the federation level, he will consider it.
“Right now, I’m enjoying the ride and I’m focusing on the Raw Talent programme,” he said.
“I just want to thank those persons who have helped to assist these young people over the last few years.
“Some of my partners are the Bahamas Basketball Federation, Advanced Physio Therapy, MaxD and coach Jeffrey Henfield, who has been on the ground preparing all of the prospects on the ground before they come over to Europe and keeping an eye on the future prospects.”
With a cohesive unit, Burrows said the Bahamas can produce a number of players who can and will continue to make the country proud of their achievements.