AMERICAN basketball coach Mark Cook said there is an abundance of talent in TT and believes that one or two players can open the door for others to get an opportunity to play at university level in the US.
Cook, who first visited TT in 2012, is one of the coaches at the two-day Spartans TT March Mayhem Skills Clinic 2019 currently taking place at Jean Pierre Complex in Port of Spain.
Cook, who has been coaching for almost ten years, is currently coaching at Columbia Prep School. He previously coached Avenues World School in Manhattan and has conducted basketball camps in New York with NBA players Devin Booker and CJ McCollum and former NBA player Walt Frazier. Cook has also coached club teams.
At yesterday’s opening day, the participants, who were mostly between 14 and 17 years of age, learned team concepts, defence and about the extra pass principle.
Cook is hopeful he can help the participants advance to a higher level. “They know how to play, but they don’t understand the little things that could take them from being good players to great players and that is what I hopefully could give them – that extra edge or advantage,” Cook said.
Cook says some of the children at the clinic can become division one university basketball players which will allow American coaches to recognise the talent in TT. “Definitely (they have the talent). I see a couple kids who definitely (can make it), even if it is not division one, they could go division two (D2) or division three (D3). They could start something...you could get one or two guys or girls who could get the door open for everybody else, even if it’s D3 or D2.”
Cook has seen improvement since he first visited TT. “I think from what I initially saw when I first came here I am excited because there are a lot of young players, there are a lot of young kids who are just blowing my mind. One of the kids here has been playing since he was two years old, I don’t see that in the states.”
Ten clubs are being represented in the clinic including Spartans, Tunapuna Tigers, Detour Shak Attack and The Stories and Success Basketball Academy.
Garvin Warwick, president of Spartans TT, urged the young people to listen to the coaches.
“All we ask them to do is be like sponges for the weekend – learn something, take away something and compete at a high level. We have some of the best Under-17 players in the country participating in this camp. The initiative is really to engage kids to compete, have fun amongst their peers and we try to do it quarterly for all the kids.”