Reaching the NBA is a mere hoop dream for many aspiring basketball players but for Ariel Whittaker he believes if he can emulate his high-achieving older sibling it is very achievable. After all, they come from the same gene pool.
Whittaker, 21, is one of the college league’s leading offensive rebounders at Clinton Community College in Plattsburg, New York. The 6ft 3in Caymanian is not tall for a baller but has immense skills and jumping ability.
‘Right now we have the best semester record in 15 years. We’ve turned the whole basketball programme around. We’re 8-3 and in the league’s top three. We have a good coach in Kevin Daugherty, but we also have a lot of good guys coming in with a great spirit. Everybody’s being unselfish, not trying to be the man on the team.’
Whittaker’s looking forward to coming back to Cayman for Christmas. ‘I’m missing all my friends and family back home. New York’s kind of cold compared to Cayman but I can recommend this.’
Famous sibling? None other than Cydonie Mothersill, the track star. Whittaker feels he has the talent to reach basketball’s Holy Grail. ‘I’m really hoping to go pro. I’m inspired by Cydonie and hope to go all the way into the NBA. The biggest thing I’ve learned from her is that the sky’s the limit. She came from a tiny place, the Cayman Islands, and she’s like huge right now, ranked sixth in the world. She’s shown me that if you really want something, go and get it, it’s not because of where you’re from or how small your country is.’
Mothersill, 29, is his mentor. ‘I am very proud of Ariel,’ she said. ‘He is a fighter, a go-getter – even when the odds are against him. I hope that his exposure in playing college ball will open up the door for him to reach his ultimate goal… the NBA.’