No U-21 League this year
BASKETBALL’S YOUNGEST LEAGUE has already become old news.
The newly-elected Barbados Amateur Basketball Association (BABA) has no plans of organising an under-21 competition this year, having committed to introducing an even younger league for the upcoming season.
First-year president Derrick Garrett disclosed the move in a telephone interview with WEEKENDSPORT, explaining the age shift as the BABA’s preparation for a possible Caribbean Basketball Championships (CBC) Junior Tournament in 2012.
“We want it to be an under-14 tournament so the players would be eligible for the under-16 tournament next year, and we’re very committed to sending a team, so we want to put measures in place as early as now,” Garrett said.
“So I wouldn’t say that it [the Under-21 League] has been discarded, more so than we are focusing more on the younger players to coincide with the regional junior tournament next year.
“But we are prepared to lend assistance to any club or entity that wants to host its own under-21 competition,” he added.
Originated in 2006, the Under-21 League was the last project implemented by long-serving president Gay Griffith, who saw a need to develop a feeder system for the BABA clubs.
And the tournament reached the height of its powers between 2007 and 2009 when it was bolstered by the likes of future national forwards Andre Holder and Kregg Jones, along with several Division 1 schoolboy players.
At one point the competition even rivalled Premier League for popularity, as top clubs such as the Bulls, Lakers, Warriors, Cavaliers and Senators extended their rivalry into the junior division.
But many felt the coaches of those clubs were using the tournament just to add trophies to their cabinets while foregoing the responsibility of developing players.
There were those who even contended that the competition shouldn’t have been open to Premier League schoolboy players as they would be taking valuable playing time away from younger players.
“There’s always been a call to end the under-21, but it’s a mixed reaction really, because some people think we should focus on the younger players while others actually believe the tournament is a good one,” said Garrett.
“I believe the Under-21 Competition has a purpose but our priority has to be the younger players. We want to see that there is development among them and we also want to have players that we can call to trials for the tournament next year.”