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Lockhart’s helping hand

Justin Marville

Lockhart’s helping hand

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ANDRE LOCKHART isn’t prepared for the buck to stop with him.
Barbados’ latest professional basketballer doesn’t want it to be its last, and so is looking at establishing a skills-based showcase with long-time coach Derek Aimey in an attempt to create more scholarship opportunities for talented juniors.
The England-based pro disclosed next year’s initiative in a wide-ranging interview with SUNSPORT during a workout at the Barbados Community College last week.
“We want to work closely with some of the more talented kids that can really play to prepare them for what could be ahead,” said the Newcastle Eagle point guard.
“I will be looking at bringing down a few coaches I know from Wingate University, Hampton University and some other schools so we can organise this into an annual showcase where we can get a lot more kids out.
“My [college] coach Brian Good is supposed to be visiting the country with his team next summerso that will be a good starting point for more coaches to come in,” he added.
A once vibrant basketball hub in the region, Barbados has had some recent success in exporting juniors stateside to play collegiately, most notably current NCAA Division I “big men” Kregg Jones and John Jones.
However, several other juniors have been forced to return early from scholarships after failing to cope with the competitive nature of the collegiate ranks along with the strenuous practices and workouts.
“The game has gone so global that a six-foot guard from Barbados is going to find it hard to get a scholarship at this current time,” Lockhart reasoned.
“You have to be very special, so a lot of the taller guys, 6’ 6” and over have an easier chance of making it professionally or to the college ranks.”
Aimey acknowledges the lack of teaching at the junior level as the main reason for these juniors’ recent struggles abroad and thus stresses the importance of having a showcase that will help teach and improve the kids’ skills.
“We’ll be trying to get them off to high school because getting people into college now may be too late,” said Aimey.
“It is too much of a disadvantage in terms of their basketball development for them to go straight to college. But more importantly, we will be focusing on teaching the game, which is really absent here right now.
“If you watch this Under-21 tournament as an example, you can see the coaches’ focus is just on winning.”
A former Coleridge and Parry student, Lockhart first came to prominence in the National Sports Council’s schoolboys programme before moving on to Rust and transferring to NCAA Division II school
Queen’s University of Charlotte.
The heady floor general eventually led his home club Lakers to its first Premier League title four seasons ago while making his senior national debut that same year, before he ultimately got his big break in the British Basketball League after signing a contract with Newcastle last year.
Lockhart’s skills showcase will be the second junior clinic being organised by an overseas-based professional, coming two years after NBA forward James Jones launched his JHoops Live camp here in Barbados.