The Cayman Islands now have two young men playing pro basketball in England.
Cory Thompson, 33, has signed on with the Worthing Thunder in division one of the English Basketball League. He joins fellow Caymanian star Jorge ‘Steamy’ Ebanks, 26, who plays for league rivals Tees Valley Mohawks.
The George Town native, who had been based in Portsmouth in the UK, states he is looking forward to facing his countryman.
“I signed a pro contract with the Thunder in September so I will be facing Jorge,” Thompson said. “I was called up by the assistant coach to see if I was interested in playing for the team this season.
“I met him a few seasons ago, when the team was in the British Basketball League, then we went to play in a tournament in France this June. Moving to London opened up a path for me to play at the highest level and giving me the opportunity to try out with a few other D1 teams like the Brixton Topcats and London A’s.
“I did not attend those tryouts because, after the call, I knew where I wanted to be. I played with the starting point guard, Bud Johnston, for three seasons and we made a bond where we both led the University of Chichester Thunders in scoring and rebounds.”
Thompson and Ebanks will first square off this Saturday, 6 October, in Middlesborough in the season-opening national trophy tournament. The duo do battle two more times during the season on 3 November and 2 February, 2013.
The young men are used to facing each other on the court. Both played many seasons in division one of the Cayman Islands Basketball Association national men’s league. In recent years, Thompson’s DHL Wolves would contend with Ebanks’ George Town Sports Club and Dominos Warriors.
Ebanks outplayed Thompson in the 2011 finals, which saw the Warriors beat the Wolves, en route to the Most Valuable Player award.
Thompson might have the upper hand in England due to his familiarity with British basketball. He has been chasing a semi-pro career for a number of years, playing in locales like Cork, Ireland and Hampshire and Chichester in England.
Interestingly, Thompson was also pursuing tertiary education and states he will have a chance to finish that up as well.
“Even though Worthing is not in London and I would have to travel almost an hour to the area, I knew I would feel at home and after the first few training sessions, there was a wonderful chemistry amongst the team. I was also offered a room in the team’s house whenever it’s needed plus they’re paying all my travel expenses.
“I was just granted a scholarship by the Cayman government to do my master’s degree at the University of Westminster in London in Design for Communications. So it will be ball and school, what a combo.”
News of Thompson’s signing comes after he staged the Rodney Bodden Memorial three-on-three tournament in August. Among the big winners were slam dunk champion Shaad O’Garro, three-point shoot-out winner Davion Cotterell and top players Kevin Maxwell and Jerome Narcisse.
The exploits of Thompson and Ebanks should provide motivation for youngsters like those on the national Under-15 national teams. The boys and girls team competed at the CentroBasket Championships this summer. The girls competed in Mexico City, Mexico with Cayman finishing fifth to become the top youth side in the Caribbean.
Interestingly, team captain Hannah Parchment was the tournament’s top scorer (17.8 points per game) while La-Torae Nixon was her usual dominant self by ranking second in scoring (16.3ppg), first in assists (5.3 assists per game), first in free throw percentage (61.8 per cent) and blocks (3.3 blocks per game).
On the other hand, the boys, even with stars Arin Taylor and Juawon Ebanks, did not win a game in San Salvador, El Salvador.
Thompson states the goal beyond England is to represent Cayman in more international competitions.
“The season starts in October and the cup and trophy games make the season eight months. I think this is very good because it ends right in time to prepare for the Island Games in Bermuda and the Caribbean Basketball Confederation games.”