by RENALDO DORSETT
Team Bahamas looks to bolster its Centrobasket 2016 roster as one of the biggest names on the basketball recruiting scene joined them in training camp.
DeAndre Ayton joined team Bahamas as they prepare for the 2016 Centrobasket Championship, June 20-26 at the Roberto Duran Arena in Panama.
The 7’0″ 235 pound high school basketball phenom was back in New Providence yesterday and joined the team for his first practice session and scrimmage where he finished with 17 points and seven rebounds in 16 minutes.
Currently with Hillcrest Academy in Phoenix, Arizona, Ayton is widely regarded as the top player in high school basketball, irrespective of class, and tops the ESPN 60 list for the class of 2017.
The team has been working under for the last few weeks under head coach Mario Bowleg alongside Wayde Watson and Kevin Johnson.
Other training camp participants include collegiate players Michael Carey, Travis Munnings, CJ Hinds, Able Joseph, JR Cadot, Shakwon Lewis, D’Shon Taylor, Jeffrey Henfield, Leon Cooper, Tehran Cox, David Nesbitt, Eugene Bain, Kentwan Smith, Nashad Mackey and Kino Burrows.
The final roster for team Bahamas will be named at a later date.
The Bahamas finished in seventh place at their last appearance in the Centrobasket tournament in 2014.
Buddy Hield led that team at 19.8 points per game followed by Mychel Thompson’s 9.3 points per game and 8.8 points from Marvin Gray.
In nearly a complete roster turnover from the 2014 Centrobasket, just three players from that team – Kino Burrows, CJ Hinds and Kentwan Smith – are currently in training camp for this year’s team.
The Bahamas also recorded a fifth place finish in 2012, fifth place in 2003, fifth place in 1995 and eighth place in 1989.
The team received automatic qualification to the 2016 Centrobasket after their success in the last two editions of the Caribbean Basketball Confederations Championship.
In 2014, the Bahamas defeated Cuba 75-64 in the gold-medal game of the CBC Championship at the Multipurpose Complex in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, led by a combined 44 points from the backcourt of Gray and Hinds.
Gray finished with 22 points, five rebounds and four assists while Hinds’ 22 points included 4-4 shooting from three-point range and 6-6 shooting from the free throw line.
Magnum Rolle finished with 12 points and nine rebounds, Kadeem Coleby added 11 points, while Mitch Johnson chipped in with four points, seven rebounds and two blocks.
In 2015, the Bahamas finished the CBC Championships with the silver medal after a 71-65 loss to the USVI, again in Tortola, BVI.
The Centrobsket group is considered the top 10 teams from the Central American and Caribbean region tested in a round robin format. The top two teams from each group advance to semifinal where the winners will contest the gold medal and losers will play for bronze.
The top five teams in the 2016 Centrobasket Championship will automatically qualify for the Division A of the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifiers and for the 2017 FIBA Americas Cup.
In addition, the fourth place teams of each group in the Group Phase will play for seventh place.
The top seven teams in the 2016 Centrobasket Championship will qualify for the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games.
Panama has hosted the competition on two previous occasions, 1977 and 2006, having won the gold medal in the latter.
Puerto Rico is the country with the most medals in the history of the competition with 22, followed by Cuba with 14 and Panama with 12, including 4 gold medals in its history (1967, 1969, 1981 and 2006).