As a sports reporter for the last three years, I’ve seen more than my fair share of Bahamian high school basketball.
In that time, we’ve had a few players gain success on the international stage, but anyone concerned with the welfare of the game would have to admit that we have a long way to go before we can be seen as a country that consistently produces these products.
There are a few observations that I feel are hindering our progress, but for now, I’ll focus on three quick points.
Lack of Shooters
Within the last month, I watched both the BAISS and GSSSA basketball championships, and I could count on two hands the times I saw someone pull up for a jumper off the dribble. Almost every game looked like a race to see who could survive missing the most free throws.
If you’re going to put your head down and plow your way to the rim on every play, at least make sure you can knock down one of the two free throws you’re awarded.
Just about every international scout or coach I’ve had the conversation with has had the same critique.
“They can run up and down with the best of them, but the shooting, that’s another thing.”
It’s amazing that the only thing separating some of our athletes from Division I and II scholarships is a consistent 15 footer.
Coaches Don’t Share Contacts
Yes as a coach, you want to develop your name and brand internationally. You manage to develop relationships with a few schools overseas, maybe a few handlers, and instead of inviting them down for major national tournaments to see a wide array of talent, most bring them in privately to look at a few of their own players, or players they may know.
I understand reputation is important when it comes to recruiting, but if you bring down scouts privately to look at some kids they aren’t interested in, their interest level in your brand drops anyway. Why not pool contacts? I may have a player your scout is interested in and vice versa. If it’s really about the kids, why not provide as many opportunities as possible.
Players Are Being Robbed of Opportunity
Coaches, if you have a kid that’s 6’0 tall with a little bounce, even if you play him at forward, teach him guard skills. He’s not going to be a 6’0 power forward anywhere else in the world. Almost every player that played this season would play one of the guard positions at the next level. And in order for them to be able to make it to that level, they’ll be required to either create for themselves or create for others. I realize that we’re not the tallest bunch in the world, so why not use what we have to our advantage. Develop ball handlers and take advantage of the speed that comes natural to most of our athletes.
In 2017, we have more than enough resources to ensure that at least 20-30 kids are awarded the opportunity to play at the next level every year. We just have to be open to criticism, willing to operate as a team and observant of the changes in the game from year to year.