THE David Wood-led group that conducted a series of coaching and basketball clinics on Saipan left last Monday and promised to send scouts from Nevada to look for talent in the commonwealth.
George Cruz, vice president of the Northern Youth Basketball Association, which helped the Basketball Association of Northern Mariana Islands in running the clinic, said camp director Richard Dankworth told them that they will help NMI players find ways to play in the mainland and receive college scholarships.
Cruz said that once the group returned to Nevada, it would talk to scouts from the University of Nevada and tell them of the potential of the NMI cagers.
Dankworth was a former top sports official at the University of Nevada in Reno, while Wood, an NBA veteran, also played for the university. Other members of the group, Dan Dix and Mike Brown were also part of the school's athletics program.
The four basketball experts are now associated with the Kona, Hawaii-based University of the Nations, which uses basketball to reach out to the youth and develop their character.
"We're pretty excited with this news. It will be great to see our players getting scholarships and playing in the universities in Nevada," Cruz said.
"The scouts may not be arriving this year, but getting a commitment from former Nevada athletes and officials that they will try to send scouts here in a year or two is really a good thing to look forward to," he added.
Cruz said that having scouts on island will definitely give a big boost to the NMI's basketball program.
"Our athletes will really look forward to that day. For now, they have more time to prepare and improve their skills to get the scouts' nod," Cruz said.
"Guam has been exposed to scouts from the mainland, now we will have our chance and hopefully we can make the grade," he added.
The four basketball experts arrived on Saipan May 30 and conducted a five-day clinic with the members of the women's and men's Nationals and BANMI coaches and officials.
Last week, they also led a youth basketball camp, which drew about 200 participants aged 8 to 17 years old.
NMI was the second island in the Pacific that got the chance to attend the NBA veteran-led basketball camp.
Wood's group was in Palau last year and conducted the same clinic. They are also looking forward to holding youth camps on other islands in the Pacific and in China and Japan as well.
(Courtesy of Variety News)