Ebanks paves way for Hoopsters

After a successful showing in Orlando, a local basketball club has plans for more foreign kudos. 

The Cayman Islands Hoopsters basketball program was among dozens of organizations featured at the first annual March Magic Showcase. After youngsters like Juawon Ebanks took center stage, program head coach Daniel Augustine said the plans are to showcase more Caymanian kids abroad. 

“In the future, we are looking to take more kids overseas,” Augustine said. “With Juawon put in the showcase, it puts us in better stead for the future. We can only create good chances to catch the eye of American colleges and high schools. We can only take them there to be seen. It’s another story for them to get scouted for colleges and high schools in the United States. We’d be looking for 10-12 kids that coaches can give us feedback on as to whether those kids can come back to play in the States. 

“From here, our boys will be participating in team camps in Florida this summer.”  

The showcase took place at the Amway Center, which stages home games for the Orlando Magic of the National Basketball Association. The event followed Amateur Athletic Union rules and catered to school kids in grades 3-12 looking to be scouted by American high school and college coaches. 

Ebanks, 15, was up against kids from clubs in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. According to Augustine, he produced eight points, two assists and a block in his one and only game of the competition. It should be noted that the West Bay native is listed as a 5-foot, 10-inch point guard and was the shortest competitor in his group, with most being at least 6-feet, 2-inches tall. 

Ebanks was accompanied by Augustine and three coaches – James Collins, Bruce Reynolds and Huey Crawford – who doubled as chaperones and members of the Juniors and Hoopsters squads taking part in division two of the ongoing Digicel National Men’s League. Among the notable players on those rosters are Michael Brooks, Arin Taylor, Naithique Jackson and Rhomar Williams. 

Augustine said, on the whole, he was pleased with the team. 

“There were some standouts and the exposure did them well, which was what our intentions were leaving here. The boys had to quickly adapt to excel as they played travel teams from American high schools. Those teams are doing the same thing as us, the only difference is we’re here and they’re there and it’ll take us a longer time to be seen. 

“One of the organizers spoke to the club afterwards and gave some informative information on what it takes to play college ball. Our job now is to see who can fit into that and give them the exposure.” 

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