Years before he became a professional basketball player, Miami Heat small forward Justise Winslow credited attending basketball camps as a teenager as an important part of his development.
“I was always going to camps, playing against older guys to make sure I was well-prepared and always the best in my age group,” the 21-year-old told Yahoo News Singapore on the sidelines of the Jr. NBA National Training Camp at the Heartbeat@Bedok integrated complex. The training camp is being held on 10, 12 and 13 August.
The Jr. NBA programme is the NBA’s global basketball initiative which aims to teach youth fundamental basketball skills at a grassroots level. Now in its second year in Singapore, this is the first time the programme features an active NBA player as one of its coaches. Winslow is in his second year with the Miami Heat.
Camps such as these could be the stepping stone some Singapore youth need in order to play at a higher level.
Participant Natasha Sanghar, 14, told Yahoo News Singapore that she joined the training camp to learn values such as “sportsmanship, teamwork, attitude and respect”. Natasha also noted that the drills taught during the camp were more detailed than the training she received in school.
Currently a centre on the Raffles Girls’ School team, Natasha has been playing basketball since she was in Primary 2, and dreams of one day making the national team.
The right push
When asked what made a good environment for developing the right basketball skills, Winslow said, “It’s important to have coaches and teammates that push you, teammates that make you better and help you, pick you up when you’re down, and coaches that understand that.”
While coaching the 200 Singapore youth during the camp, Winslow said he was impressed with their skill. “I’ve been very impressed,” he said. “They have great fundamentals – their passing, their ball handling.”
The youth, aged between 10 and 14, were selected from more than 1,500 participants after a six-week regional training programme held from 1 July to 6 August.
Winslow added, “They just have to continue to work. You just have to work hard, believe in yourself and just continue to trust your skill.”
The top eight boys and girls will be selected at the end of the training camp to represent the country as the Jr. NBA Singapore All-Stars. They will watch a pre-season game in Shanghai with fellow Jr. NBA All-Stars from the region.
Winslow said he arrived in Singapore on National Day (9 August) and caught some of the parade, which he described as “very exciting”. Apart from planned trips to the Night Safari and a tour on the Singapore river, he said he is keen to try the local food.
He has a fondness for spicy food, and his must-eat meal on a game day is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich laced with jalapeno peppers. “They said something about some spicy noodles (in Singapore). I wanna try that,” he said.