The National Basketball Association (NBA) and SEED Project (Sports for Education and Economic Development), a non-profit organization based in Thies, Senegal that uses basketball as a platform to engage youth in academic, athletic and leadership programs, today announced the official opening of NBA Academy Africa. An elite basketball training center in Thies for the top male and female prospects from throughout Africa, NBA Academy Africa is the first of its kind on the continent.
Twelve elite male prospects will be selected following scouting programs conducted with local federations across Africa and elite skills camps hosted in Thies in December and earlier this week. All twelve prospects will receive scholarships and training at NBA Academy Africa.
As part of the announcement, the NBA and SEED Project also announced their plan to launch a new NBA Academy Africa in Saly Senegal ror elite male prospects from throughout Africa, scheduled to open in the fall. When the new facility in Saly opens, SEED Project’s existing facility in Thies will house and train female prospects and younger male prospects.
NBA Academy Africa will employ a holistic, 360-degree approach to player development with focuses on education, leadership, character development and life skills. As part of the program, the students will compete against top competition throughout the year and will have an opportunity to be selected for travel teams that play in international tournaments and exhibition games.
“Today is an important milestone for the growth of basketball on the continent as we begin to welcome the first group of young student athletes who will form the inaugural roster of NBA Academy Africa,” said NBA Vice President and Managing Director for Africa, Amadou Gallo Fall. “NBA Academy Africa will provide student athletes with world-class, comprehensive training and education so they have the resources to achieve on the court and in life. I’d like to thank SEED for sharing our commitment to building a predictable path for African youth, and I am confident we will see the number of African players in the NBA continue to grow because of this initiative.”
“NBA Academy Africa will play an important part in developing elite young players on the continent, and we are excited to be partnering with the NBA on this project,” said SEED Project Senegal Executive Director Mohamed Niang. “We look forward to working with the top young prospects and playing our part in providing them with the skills and supportive environment to succeed.”
The official opening of NBA Academy Africa follows the launch of academies in Hangzhou, Jinan and Urumqi, China and the planned launch of academies in Canberra, Australia; and Delhi National Capital Region (NCR), India. NBA Academies include educational development for top international male and female prospects and mark the NBA’s most significant investment in elite player development. The initiative exposes elite prospects to NBA-level coaching, facilities and competition and provides a global framework for elite prospects to maximize their success.
From 2014-16, SEED Project served as an implementing partner of the “Live, Learn and Play” (LLP) program, a strategic partnership between the NBA and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) designed to build local organizational capacity and positively impact Senegalese boys and girls ages 13-17 in 10 schools in Dakar and Thies. The SEED Project regularly helps its graduates, including Gorgui Dieng (Minnesota Timberwolves; Senegal; Basketball without Borders Africa 2009), enroll in university programs in Africa, Europe and the U.S.
NBA Academy Africa builds on the NBA’s existing basketball and youth development initiatives in Africa, including Jr. NBA programs for boys and girls ages 16 and under in Cameroon, Congo, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Uganda, Senegal and South Africa. Basketball without Borders, the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and community outreach program, has been held in Africa 14 times, with nine former BWB Africa campers drafted into the NBA.