As some of you may or may not know, the post season is extended for many players who take part in the County and Regional Program which is a talent identification and player development program that feeds the National Teams. It is the start of the journey for players who have aspirations of representing their country, and these competitions provides a vehicle for that process.

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Last week Russell Hoops hosted both a three day Easter Camp and a Invitational Elite camp hosted by professional coach Daniele Aniello, who flew in specially from Ascoli Piceno in Italy.

Throughout the week, there was over 100 players who walked through the doors at Presdales School, as well as many guest coaches, parents and friends who observed the camps. The atmosphere was electrifying yet welcoming, and by the end of the week there was a real family feel with many new friendships made.

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After Russell Hoops partnered with St. Mary’s ‘THUNDER’ Basketball Academy in 2014 the program has gone from strength to strength.  Since the transition of coaching staff, we have focused and added provision to the lower year groups as well as the sixth-form teams.

St. Mary’s has supported our vision since the beginning and, in its second year, the players are starting to see the results of hard work and perseverance.  In particular, years ‘9’ and ’10’ teams;  the majority of these players are receiving 6+ hours’ training per week with 7.30am workouts and after-school ‘skill’ sessions.  Add in club commitments and RH sessions outside of school, these young men are dedicating a lot of hours in the gym!

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A few years back Head Coach Ben Russell was coaching at Richard Hale School in Hertford when he noticed a very promising athlete, Reuben Omolu. Once coach Russell had seen his athletic ability, he didn’t waste any time and invited Reuben to attend the academy.

It wasn’t just Reuben’s athletic ability that caught the coaches eye, but his manners, maturity and confidence for such a young student.

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After relocating to Dallas, Texas last year I have had the opportunity to become involved in the American youth basketball system by establishing networks within public and primary schools.

I am in awe of the sports culture in the USA and have now fully comprehended how far the U.K is behind this country in its sports development. Despite attending college here in the USA, my most recent relocation has been an extremely eye opening journey for me and given a very clear picture of the improvements needed in my home country.

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U14 V Ascoli Basket 

Hoops 86 Ascoli 60

After a great day of practice the under 14s came out ready to play hard. Starting with a full court press, the boys put the Ascoli team under pressure causing a number of turnovers to take an early lead.

During practice the boys learnt how to use the down screen and were able to use this effectively to create scoring opportunities .

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So we have reached the final day, and what a memorable journey it has been for these boys (or is it young men).

There have been highs and lows, lots of them, for the group, and for each and every one of them. They will be a key part of the experience the guys will take away from this. 

At our final tour meeting last night it was very inspiring, as we went round the group to hear what each of them said they will take away from this tour. Confidence was a strong and recurring theme and making new friendships, having belief, being responsible and working hard were some of the many other lessons they said they had learned.

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The last few days have been such an enjoyment

Some fantastic training sessions on Friday,with the boys being fully recharged, led to a very positive mood going into the second games.

The evening games were exciting, challenging and eventful. They all went down to the last few seconds , and unfortunately ended up with 3 losses as the smart and savvy Italians seemed to not miss their key shots as we pressurised them to the end.

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After a tough first day acclimatising to the intense heat and schedule, the boys bounced back and had a GREAT day of practices. The improvement was evident, and everyone had really positive attitudes.

Game 2 was against S.Egidio Basket for the U14 and U16’s, whilst the U18 were to face there toughest contest yet against a brilliant Ascoli Basket team who are hosting us.  You can find all match reports and statistics below.

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