Sports

NBA star stages clinic this week; UB to offer scholarship to MVP

After a record-breaking season for the Sacramento Kings in which he became the franchise’s most prolific three-point shooter ever, Chavano “Buddy” Hield is back home in The Bahamas, and he is certainly making his presence felt.

The 6’ 4” sharp shooter for the Kings is staging his Hope 24 Elite Basketball Clinic this week at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium, and is partnering with the University of The Bahamas (UB) in what is expected to be an ongoing initiative. UB has come on board in the staging of the clinic, and will award the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the event with a full athletic scholarship to the institution.

With the national under-17 (U17) team in San Juan, Puerto Rico, representing The Bahamas at the Centrobasket U17 Championships this week, a total of 24 of the next tier of high school athletes are currently engaging in the week-long clinic. The clinic got underway and will run until Friday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. It is encompassing young talented players from all over The Bahamas.

On Saturday, organizers of the clinic will stage an all-day fun day consisting of a celebrity game and various contests and activities.

“UB Athletics has partnered with the Hope 24 Elite Basketball Clinic as part of an ongoing relationship with the Buddy Hield Foundation,” said UB President Dr. Rodney Smith yesterday. “The University of The Bahamas is excited about this venture and will provide the services of its sports medicine team headed by Head Athletics Trainer Sasha Johnson.

“What we are most excited about is the full scholarship to UB inclusive of a book award and a meal plan that will be awarded to the MVP. We are preparing our students for better lives in a global society. To achieve this, we are creating a campus that is more diverse and we are developing a more robust athletics program. A part of this diversity is exposing our students to a wider array of sporting disciplines such as sailing and golf and attracting the top local sports talent. All of this is essential for the development of a first-class institution that will have a national impact.”

Hield welcomed the offer from UB and looks forward to the partnership continuing for years to come.

“This is big time, particularly for the scholarship award winner. He will get an opportunity to play basketball and also get his education at the University of The Bahamas at the same time,” said Hield. “I can’t be happier fort this opportunity to share in this partnership. It’s important for this to continue in the right direction. I’m really excited to see how far the program could go. I’m just blessed to be part of this opportunity, and thanks to the University of The Bahamas for helping this dream to come true for one special player.”

UB Men’s Basketball Head Coach Bacchus Rolle said that he has seen the players who will be active in the clinic this week, and will be looking forward to working with the scholarship winner in UB’s program next year.

“It is a very good group of guys. They are very talented and very athletic,” he said. “We’re at the embryonic stage of the program here at UB but it is continuing to grow. It is moving in the right direction. All we have to do is to continue to grow. It is imperative for us to keep our talent home. The more athletic and talented players usually try to go to the United States or Canada for their collegiate careers, but if we could keep those players here, this program could really take off and grow, and that’s in every sport – not just basketball.”

A number of the players are from inner communities in The Bahamas. Coming from humble beginnings himself, Hield said that he just wants every young kid in The Bahamas to get the same opportunities that he had and to get to the level where they want to get to.

“I want kids from the entire Bahamas to get an opportunity,” said Hield. “I’m always big on giving back to the community. Whatever I could do to give back to the game of basketball and to The Bahamas, I try to do that – whether it’s giving out school supplies, staging clinics, or just giving kids a better opportunity to excel in the game of basketball and in the game of life. Others did it for me and that inspired me to be where I am today, so hopefully something like this could inspire someone else to get to where they want to get to.”

Hield has outreach programs here in The Bahamas, in Nassau and Freeport, in Wichita, Kansas where he played high school basketball with Sunrise Christian Academy, in Norman, Oklahoma, where he played collegiately with the Oklahoma Sooners and in Sacramento, California, where he plays professionally with the Kings.

No matter where he travels, or how the game of basketball has taken him, he said he is always to true to himself and keep The Bahamas within him.

“I’m an island boy at heart so it’s no different for me wherever I go. It’s two different worlds but this is the world I know. My Bahamian people love me and I love them,” said Hield. “I have The Bahamas in me, and that will always be the case. In the states, it’s just like whatever over there. I’m just over there doing my job and chasing my dream. This (The Bahamas) will always be home to me.

“I just want to continue to get better and be the best player that I could be. Every offseason I just try to work on my weaknesses on and off the court. I’m just trying to get to where God has me destined to be. I’m just living my dream and taking it one day at a time, but The Bahamas is always home to me.”

As far as the under-17 boys national basketball team is concerned, Hield said he wishes them well in representing their country this week. They will open play at the Centrobasket U17 Championships against the host country Puerto Rico tomorrow night. The top three nations from the Centrobasket Championships will qualify for the 2020 FIBA (International Basketball Federation) Americas Under-18 (U18) Championships, otherwise known as the Tournament of Americas for U18 Men.

“That is a bigger opportunity for them to be exposed, and the message to them was to go ahead and get that opportunity,” said Hield. “There will be scouts out there watching them, so they have to take that opportunity to go out there and play. They are playing for something big – to go to the Tournament of the Americas. I myself never made it to that level, so I wish them nothing but success. There are some great players who will be representing The Bahamas.”

Hield will be joined by some of his National Basketball Association (NBA) colleagues at the clinic this week, and they will be assisted by UB Men’s Basketball Head Coach Rolle and high school and college coaches.

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Sheldon Longley

Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.

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