Via teleconference on Thursday, July 18, Sen. Alicia V. Barnes, Sen. Janelle K. Sarauw and Commissioner-nominee Calvert White met with Ahmad George of The Basketball Group (TBG) to discuss plans for bringing basketball camps to the territory in 2020.
The group’s goal is to identify and expose student athletes in the Virgin Islands and across the continental U.S. who are considered “diamonds in the rough” or “under the radar” to provide them with a platform for recruitment opportunities through a partnership with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. The Basketball Group plans to organize over 35 middle school and high school summer camps in 2020 to provide content for a social media-based network that connects student athletes with team members, coaches, parents and fans to drive a significant presence for the Intercollegiate Athletics partnership.
According to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics statistics, more than 65,000 association-affiliated student athletes have the opportunity to play college sports and earn over $600 million in scholarships. There are currently over 300 National Association Intercollegiate Athletics colleges and universities that track under-the-radar student athletes. Being part of the association drives higher collegiate participation with a focus on basketball, football and baseball.
“We are really excited about partnering with the Virgin Islands. The camps will start in June of 2020 for a duration of two weeks for invitation-only candidates. We’re working on a partnership with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics division to offer a budget for its coaches to participate in the program and to bring them over to the Virgin Islands,” Ahmad George said.
During The Basketball Group’s 2019 Memorial Day Combine held in May of 2019, in Upper Marlboro, Md., a total of 17 full athletic scholarships were awarded to student athletes. One of those students, a 6’4” point guard from Texas with the potential of going pro, accepted a full scholarship to the University of the Virgin Islands through The Basketball Group.
“We wanted to open up this upcoming 2020 initiative to the Caribbean to help us identify more diamonds in the rough for smaller universities that offer full scholarships,” George said.
“I am all for any event or organization brought to the territory that is going to highlight and/or give our local Virgin Islanders who are involved in athletics a chance to be seen outside of the territory. We do know that with sports tourism, we want to drive the territory and bring events here to support the economy. And in looking at the event, if we can get a number of teams from the continental U.S. to come to the Virgin Islands for a week or two, we’ll definitely see a boost in the economy,” White said.
“I am excited to partner with an organization like The Basketball Group that seeks to provide opportunities for our student athletes who may otherwise be overlooked by division one schools. The organization has a proven track record with connecting student athletes with scholarship and career opportunities, and we welcome the possibilities that will be realized from this partnership,” Sen. Barnes said.
Our student athletes deserve opportunities to come to them locally instead of always traveling to distant places to find them. Thank you to the Basketball Group and Senator Barnes for facilitating the meeting. The vision is commendable and will create a lasting impact for generations to come,” Sen. Sarauw said.