A total of nine young Caymanians are set to play basketball in the United States, with hopes of furthering their sporting and academic schooling.
Neandra Forbes-Morgan, Jamie Rankin, Charlene Seymour, Jehiel Henry, Noel Squire, Jathan Barnes, Daniel Reyes, Nathaniel Hurlston-Anderson and Keller Wilson have all received scholarships to attend several high schools in the US.
Cory McGee, who trains over 30 kids through the ‘Breakfast Club Cayman Islands’ basketball programme, which is supported by the Ministry of Sports, said the opportunities are the result of hard work in training and in the classroom.
“It’s about me putting these kids in a situation, where I can train them up and have a conversation with the coaches overseas, and say ‘hey, coach, I have a really good player here’… And then the coach will evaluate these kids,” McGee told the Cayman Compass.
“It’s also about pushing the kids with their academics, and to know that you don’t get to play basketball until you are eligible with good academics. You’ve got to have those grades and the schools have those types of guidelines,” he added.
According to McGee, Forbes-Morgan, Rankin and Seymour received scholarships from St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in Newark, New Jersey, covering US$21,000 per person.
He added that Henry and Squire are heading to Impact Academy in Florida. Barnes and Reyes are also heading to Florida, but will be attending Elevation Preparatory Academy. They will each be receiving US$23,100 per annum in scholarship funding from the schools.
Hurlston-Anderson and Wilson have been accepted into Santa Clarita High School in California. However, McGee says they are still negotiating financing.
Caymanian basketball player Joshua O’Garro, who plays basketball at San Jose State University took the same route as a high school student.
O’Garro attended Santa Clarita, the same school Hurlston-Anderson and Wilson are expected to play at.
McGee said the students’ journey through the schools’ developmental programmes will aid with their respective college aspirations.
“It’s a great opportunity and we’re just building them up mentally, and physically and it’s going to be great,” said McGee. “They want an opportunity to play elite-level basketball and try higher education at a younger age and I think, if you’re thrust into that situation at an older age, 17 or 18, you might not be as prepared for it.”
Henry, 16, who will attend Impact Academy, said training under McGee has been tough, but he feels this has prepared him for the next step in his schooling.
“The process has been really gruesome,” Henry told the Compass. “Waking up every morning [at] 5 o’clock, coming to the gym and training and just being consistent, because it really comes down to how bad you want it. Coach has helped me in many ways, he has [taught] me life lessons, he has just been a very big help in the whole transition and going away for school and on the court and off the court.”