Summer is out and school is back in, but several Bahamian junior basketball players got a chance to showcase their talent on the hardwood in the United States (US) in the summer. A number of them did it with the help of Bahamian professional basketball player Chavano “Buddy” Hield who put together two teams called “Buddy Buckets Bahamas” to play on the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball circuit.
Hield, the star shooting guard of the Sacramento Kings in the National Basketball Association (NBA), had a 16-and-under team and a 17-and-under team who played twice in Dallas, Texas, and once in Indianapolis, Indiana. The idea to put the teams together came about from a collaboration with his college teammates Trey Slate and Daniel Harper, along with Gary Harper.
“They gave me an idea to start an AAU program and I was like as soon as the AAU program develops, the main goal was to get some of my Bahamian kids over here to join and teach them to play,” Hield said. “I want to give them opportunities to be seen by college coaches and give them exposure that they do not have in The Bahamas that they will get in America. I felt it was better if I have my own ‘Buddy Buckets Bahamas’ team. I took that idea and brought two teams, ages 16 and 17.”
It was a tough past 18 months locally for junior players as there was little to no organized basketball competitions being played because of the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic. For those who played on the team, Hield said they had an opportunity to be scouted.
“I think it is actually good to have the kids out there playing and representing The Bahamas and of course their brand, giving them an opportunity to play basketball in front of college coaches, so they can pursue their dreams and goals. I tell them boys every day, this opportunity don’t come in The Bahamas. You go out there and score and take the opportunity. Leave it on the floor because you never know what impression you will leave on a coach. It only takes one impression for a coach to recruit you,” Hield said.
The Grand Bahama native said it is an expensive venture for him but he just wants the Bahamian players to be seen, so they can go far in the sport they love.
“It’s expensive but I feel like the youth is the future and the more kids we can get involved and go out there and represent ‘Buddy Buckets’ and The Bahamas, it gives them more
opportunities to be seen and more opportunities to be recruited. They can shed the light and hopefully they can be the next DeAndre Ayton, Buddy Hield and Kai Jones,” he said.
The players went over to the US to play but the sharpshooter also took them to see his alma mater, the University of Oklahoma, where they saw Hield’s image on the walls of the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
Hield is entering his sixth season in the NBA. He and the Kings will get the 2021-2022 campaign underway on Wednesday, October 20 against the Portland Trail Blazers. That game is set to start at 10 p.m.