New TD vows to move youth basketball to next level

Tiavion Ayre (right) of Camperdown and Mikala Morrison of The Queen’s School battle for the ball during the ISSA Corporate Area Schoolgirls Basketball final at Excelsior High School on Thursday. Camperdown won the game 44-28.(Photo: Garfield Robinson)

Newly appointed technical director of Jamaica’s Under-17 basketball programme Dwayne Dawkins believes that there are many talented young players in Jamaica, but said that they must be given the necessary support in order to develop their skills and to ultimately become professional players.

Dawkins, founder of the Elite 1 Caribbean Basketball League, said one of his main objectives is to identify young players and to nurture them for future national teams.

“We have a lot of raw talent in Jamaica…but when we compare it to North America and Europe at age 10 and 11 years old, they [European kids] have already played full competitions,” he said.

“They understand how to read screens and play the different types of defence and offence systems at 10 and 11 years old, so the reality is that in Jamaica, we are starting the kids too late into the game so we have a lot of catching up to do,” Dawkins pointed out.

He underscored that he is serious about the development of the sport in Jamaica and will working tirelessly to ensure that under his watch there will be significant growth in the sport in the country.

“I think my track record shows that because even before this appointment, I have been running youth leagues, three-on-three, academies, pro leagues and I have been bringing international players, teams here to help grow the game here,” Dawkins.

“I have raised over a million US dollars that we have put into the basketball community here since 2019 so for me, I am just here because somebody gave me an appointment, I am here because I have already been here and committed to it,” he added.

Dawkins’ first order of business will be to prepare the national Under-17 side for the Centrobasket Championships, which will be held in Belize from July 26-30.

He said that he has already scouted some players — both locally and overseas — who they will be inviting to represent the country at the championships.

“We have to identify a pool of players that we can work with because we already have an existing staff that has been working together over the past couple of years, so it is really now to identify a large pool of players so that we can begin to prepare for competition in July,” he said.

“This is a very important tournament for us because it is one that we should be able to do well in and hopefully, that will be the beginning of some bigger things,” Dawkins pointed out.

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