Shaad O’Garro and Deandre Simpson could be among the next wave of Caymanian talent to hit the hard-court overseas.
Both young men are 25-years-old and coming off a third straight national championship with the Sol Blazers. With their college careers just about over, there is a chance for both to follow the likes of Jerome Narcisse and play semi-professional basketball abroad.
Simpson, who turns 26 in October, says he is still contemplating his next move.
“I was at Hesser College, then Southwestern Oklahoma State,” Simpson said. “For basketball reasons, I left in my junior season and as a senior I was at Webber International University in Florida. I’m thinking hard about it, I just graduated college. I’m still thinking it over, I haven’t made any progress with my decision on it.”
O’Garro, who turns 26 in July, says he is focused on his education.
“I was at Howard College in Texas, where I played alongside the NBA’s Jae Crowder and I transferred to school in Kentucky where I didn’t play,” O’Garro said. “Now I’m at LeMoyne-Owen College in Tennessee. Maybe I’ll follow Jerome but I’m still in school, we’ll see.”
O’Garro and Simpson led the Blazers to the division one crown in the 2014 Digicel National League. They would beat the Dominos Warriors for the third straight season. O’Garro – listed at 6-feet, 6-inches and 180 pounds – had 15.3 points and 13.3 rebounds per contest during the three-game series while Simpson – listed at 6-feet, 5-inches and 190 pounds – averaged 11.3 points and 14.6 rebounds.
Narcisse, 27, played for the Warriors after suiting up for the Tees Valley Mohawks in England. The West Bay native, who played alongside Caymanians Lloyd Samuels and Jorge Ebanks, says he hopes more local players are motivated to replicate his journey to Middlesbrough.
“It all comes down to drive,” Narcisse said. “I hope it increases to the level where lots of players see they can compete internationally. I’ve been all over the world and I got a free education from this sport. I sacrificed a lot with basketball but it put me where I am today.”
Outside of O’Garro and Simpson, the national champions have other young men in their prime. Shaad’s brother, Sammy O’Garro, is listed at 6-feet, 5-inches and 170 pounds and the 24-year-old recently graduated from Eckerd College where he played three seasons. Davion Cotterell is just 22-years-old and previously played at Santa Clarita Christian School in California.
For the likes of Director of Sports Collin Anglin – who had offers to play professionally – and technical director for Cayman basketball Victor ‘Voot’ O’Garro – father of Shaad and Sammy O’Garro – there are only positives from young Caymanians attempting to play abroad.
“It’s the perfect time to do so now, before getting married or having a family,” Anglin said. “The time is now to go for it.”
“It’s a pleasure to see basketball where it is at the moment, coming to where we’re starting to see the players that started as baby players come back to enhance the sport,” Victor O’Garro said. “We have made an investment to send players to colleges abroad. When the players return, you’ll see that the league will get stronger and grow annually.”