Some of Cayman’s best youth basketball players recently benefitted from a foreign coach.
The national Under-16 girls team worked with Washington-based recruiter Kevin Wills. The force behind Total Basketball, which caters to high schools around the District of Columbia area, Wills spent a week in Grand Cayman doing drills with the ladies at the Arts and Recreation Centre.
One of the girls he worked with was Andrea Jackson, 17. The George Town native states the sessions with Wills were helpful.
“I play for the Women of Valour women’s team and in the U19 basketball league,” Jackson said. “He gave me a lot of encouragement. The sessions gave me more courage to continue my dream. I’ve always loved basketball.
“He encouraged the girls to do more with the skills they have. It felt like a revamped practice because he taught us little things like how to do lay-ups with more speed.”
The presence of the US recruiter comes at an interesting time. The national U16 basketball competition, titled the PricewaterhouseCoopers U16 Basketball league, just ended over the weekend. The girls segment played its final at Camana Bay while the boys division, featuring two-time champions Bodden Town, wrapped up last month at the University College of the Cayman Islands. Meanwhile the national men’s team recently came back from the Isle of Wight where they competed at the Island Games. Heading up that squad is Daniel Augustine, who organized Wills’ trip to these shores.
Wills, 42, was in Cayman for the first time. From here he is expected to run his annual summer basketball event in Washington called Nations Capital Summer Pro-Am, designed for minor league clubs and international travel teams to showcase their players to various scouts.
His background points to connections with a number of schools in the Mid-Atlantic region such as Princeton Day Academy, Progressive Christian Academy and Cesar Chavez public charter school. Wills also has worked with Miami Central high school in Miami, Florida, Mount Zion Christian Academy in North Carolina and Maryland’s Riverdale Baptist high,
While in Cayman he worked with a number of youth talents like La-Torae Nixon, Amber Watson and Chloe Powery. The result is he feels all of the Cayman girls have the potential to be stars abroad.
“Every child has some talent,” Wills said. “The problem is all of them are not playing enough. They need to play various levels of talent. The variance in competition level allows you to be better quickly. If you don’t play much then you’re not carrying what you learned and that’s instrumental to be a top-notch player.
“On a whole Cayman has enough athletes to compete. Some of the children have typical size. I’d even say the girls here are comparable to the States. The thing is in basketball, athleticism helps you only for awhile.
“Where I’m coming from in Washington, a good 8U team might play 100 games in a tournament and that’s just in the summer. Those tournaments have two or three games in a day.”