Jamaica experienced its first professional development basketball showcase recently courtesy of P.H.A.S.E.1 Academy. The five-day event took place at the GC Foster College in Spanish Town, St Catherine from May 2-6, and saw more than 45 professional basketball players from Jamaica, Canada, the United States, and Barbados participating.
P.H.A.S.E.1 Academy's founder Wayne Dawkins said the event was very successful, especially as its status was bolstered by the presence of NBA and FIBA agents and world-class basketball trainers.
“Two Jamaican athletes have been offered professional contracts with a pro team in Africa, and we have another Jamaican athlete who was also offered a full scholarship to a junior college in Phoenix Arizona,” he said.
He explained that the showcase also exposed Jamaican players to a higher level of competition for the first time.
“The learning experience of the local athletes was also tremendous; they got to learn from their North American counterparts. They were not successful against them in competition, but what they gained in experience playing against them is going to be invaluable moving forward,” he said.
The competition was high
He shared that the showcase also served the added purpose of introducing the other players to Jamaican culture.
“We also got a chance to introduce many people to Jamaican culture for the first time and they were amazed. They really want to come back and visit and live, so that was also a great victory as well for Jamaica in terms of tourism and opening up our culture to the rest of the world,” the Jamaican-born Canadian said.
The days started off with drills and training
For the showcase, the players started off with extensive training and drills in the mornings. In the afternoons, they were divided into four teams with two games played daily. The showcase culminated with an All-Star game that featured the best performing players throughout the event.
The Green team
The Blue team
The White team
The Black team
Canadian Narcisse Kalamba emerged top player of the showcase and MVP of the All-Star game after an impressive showing.
“It feels great, it’s a great opportunity to come out in Jamaica and showcase our talent from Canada, and I’m really grateful for the opportunity that Wayne gave us to come down here,” he said.
Player of the showcase Narcisse Kalamba poses with his prize with President of the Jamaica Basketball Association, Paulton Gordon
President of the Jamaica Basketball Association, Paulton Gordon, whose organization collaborated with P.H.A.S.E.1 to host the event said the showcase filled a void that has long been present in Jamaica’s basketball development.
“We have been longing for an activity like this to provide a platform for the youngsters to showcase their skills but what we require is consistency. Some of these youngsters clearly have athletic ability and have some of the fundamentals so to be playing day in and day out consistently among their peers and persons who are at another level can only ensure that they improve. So we welcome initiatives like these and we are very supportive of this initiative,” he said.
Great for Jamaican Basketball
Jamaican player Adeeb Vernon agrees with Gordon and expresses his hope that this is the start of something great for Jamaican basketball.
“It’s been a great showcase for me to show my talent and a great opportunity for other kids to come here and showcase their talent. And I think for us, it’s a great start to something bigger in Jamaica,” he said.
As this was the first of its kind event on the island, it attracted numerous stakeholders who wanted to experience professional basketball in Jamaica and support P.H.A.S.E.1 Academy’s initiative.
Founder and CEO of P.H.A.S.E.1 Academy, Wayne Dawkins (centre) poses with coaches, members of the media, and Jamaican basketball stakeholders
Christopher Samuda, president of the Jamaica Olympic Association was one of the guests who attended the showcase and was left very impressed.
“It’s an excellent development tool and the Jamaica Olympic Association encourages this,” he said. “This is what we need for our youngsters; matches, coaching expertise, opportunities to transition. It’s an excellent work and I hope that it continues with full force and that we will have repeats of this.”
Legendary Jamaican singer Beres Hammond sitting courtside at P.H.A.S.E.1 pro development basketball showcase
Manager of the Jamaica Sports Development Foundation, Denzel Wilks shared Samuda’s sentiments.
“I really endorse the concept of what’s been done, it’s clearly developmental. I think Jamaica has through the years underperformed against our potential as far as basketball is concerned and this approach is what it will take to make basketball what it can be for Jamaica,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dawkins is extending his gratitude to the sponsors of the event; Emkay Sports which provided the trophies and the basketball as the MVP prize, Famished provided meals, 138 Student Living for accommodation, Cool Groves Transport for Transportation, and the Jamaica Basketball Association for its continued support of P.H.A.S.E.1 Academy’s initiatives in Jamaica.
Kevaun Hinds of Emkay Sports
He asserted that this is only the beginning of what is to come for Jamaican basketball.
"We look forward to doing this again, everybody is gonna be anticipating that, so we are going to start planning for the future,” he said.