Newham Youngbloods’ Jelani Watson-Gayle and Emmanuel Odunsi have been selected to take part in a one-day showcase of British basketball talent designed to inspire and assist a new generation of players.
The sport’s grassroots community has taken it upon itself to respond in the wake of UK Sport’s withdrawal of British Basketball’s funding earlier this year – the result being the inaugural Hoopsfix All Star Classic.
The event has been organised by British basketball website Hoopsfix.com and all proceeds from the day will go towards the Hoopsfix Foundation – a newly-launched not-for-profit initiative dedicated to helping grow the game of basketball in the UK.
The two players will join the rest of Britain’s best ballers on the court at Brunel University, in Uxbridge, on Sunday, June 15, to celebrate the talent that exists in the country and give something back to the sport that means so much to so many.
The day tips off with the top 22 under-16 players in the country born in 1998 or later taking to the floor, the part that will feature Newham’s players, before an under-25 all-star game – featuring the best talent of a generation – takes centre stage.
Youngblood’s are thrilled to have the pair selected in such an important event and hope the club’s fans will support them there too.
“I feel quite lucky to be selected and it’s a big achievement,” said Jelani Watson-Gayle. “I’m very grateful to be selected as everyone my age would have loved to have been picked, I can’t wait to play!”
“I feel privileged to be selected,” added Odunsi. “It’s going to be a great experience and one of those basketball moments I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.
“Battling against the top guys in my age group from the country is going to be a great challenge and experience, especially with the amount of fans attending.”
Aaron Senior, u16 Boys Youngbloods Head Coach said: “This is a fantastic achievement from the Boys, they have worked hard all year, and their talent will now be displayed against the best in the country, us at Youngbloods wish them all the best in this fantastic event”
Hoopsfix will also host a dunk contest, where some of the UK’s best aerial artists will take to the floor to be crowned the UK’s best dunker.
A community coaching session will take place in the morning, which will see youth players from the London School of Basketball being put through their paces by Reach & Teach, the official grassroots development partner of the Hoopsfix All-Star Classic.
Sam Neter, owner of Hoopsfix.com, added: “The event is a celebration of British basketball talent, history and culture.
“There are a ton of great players from here, many of which do not get the recognition or support they deserve and this is a chance to shine a light on just how much potential we have.
“With all the proceeds going towards the Hoopsfix Foundation, the event will give back to the game that has meant so much to all of us, bringing it full circle.
“We have been delighted with the response from so many of the country’s top players, who have jumped at the chance to be involved.
“This says a lot about the strength of feeling amongst the players following the devastating funding cut and with this event we are aiming to turn that emotion into something positive.”
Limited tickets, which are expected to sell out quickly, are available online at hoopsfixallstarclassic.com, and will not be available on the door.
Proud supporters of the Hoopsfix All Star Classic include ESPN Player, 2tall.com, Molten, Amaechi Performance Systems, Reach & Teach, Sportserve, 5or6, Always Ballin’, Let Me Play and Wilkie TV.
To be automatically entered into competition to win an annual subscription to ESPN Player, clothing, DVDS and more, talk about the event on Twitter, Facebook (make your status update public) and Instagram, using the hashtag #HASC14. More details available at hoopsfixallstarclassic.com.