Plymouth Raiders launch search for new prospects to join Academy
MARJON Plymouth Raiders' new Academy boss Jay Marriott is not resting on his laurels and is starting to recruit for the 2013/14 season.
This September 14 students took up the inaugural places on the BBL club's new basketball academy at Discovery College in Plymouth.
School-leavers study for two years for a BTEC in sport alongside receiving coaching every day from Marriott.
Two of the Academy's new players, Jordan Blount and Tristan Hall, have been invited by Raiders coach Gavin Love to train with his senior professionals.
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The ultimate goal is for top prospects like Blount to develop in Plymouth before attending college for four years in the USA, the best breeding ground for players on the planet.
They will then be ready to turn professional with Raiders like the club's current captain Anthony Rowe, now 26, who is homegrown and successfully followed that route.
Raiders are holding open trials for prospective new Academy players at Plymouth College in Ford Park off Mutley Plain over two days on October 29-30 (9am-2pm).
Players must be 14-16-year-olds and email Marriott a playing CV. If he is interested, he will email back a form for players and their parents to fill in and sign.
Marriott said: "If we want the best players, it's important we recruit early and players realise we're interested in them and we're looking at them.
"It also gives lads in the city who are 14, 15-years-old something to aim for."
Marriott added: "There are a lot of academies out there and we're still in our infancy, so we're trying to get the word out about what we're doing as much as we can."
The two-day camp, which falls in the school half-term holiday, equally gives youngsters the chance to run the rule over Marriott.
He said: "It's important players get used to my style of coaching and see if they like it.
"It's not going to be for everybody and it's high intensity, because we're trying now to start consistently producing BBL players.
"It's about us as a club, the player and their family feeling comfortable about what we're trying to do."
Raiders boss Love, guard Drew Lasker and big-man Rowe will attend the trials in October and each give talks about making it in professional basketball.
Four first year Academy players – Blount, Hall, David Mockaitis and Ryan Peard – hope to continue on that road next season in the USA, either at a high school or college Marriott is fast developing links with.
Two are Maryknoll High School and neighbouring Brigham Young University in Hawaii.
Blount, 15, intends to go to Maryknoll, who are also showing an interest in Exeter-based Lithuanian Mockaitis, 16.
"Maryknoll are really interested in David and we're talking to colleges in Hawaii, California and Iowa about taking Tristan and Ryan," said Marriott.
"It's important players see that we're trying to get people out to America this year. If you're ready, you'll go – that's our ethos.
"Gavin Love has invited Jordan and Tristan to train with the BBL team. That's been an experiment, but the benefits of that are coming to fruition.
"When we see them now playing back at their own level, they're head and shoulders above everyone else."
Marriott added: "We can't relax and have a great first year with the Academy, but then all these guys leave and then we're left wondering, 'Where do we find players?'
"We want to replace great players with great players.
"You never what's going to happen in the future, but ideally these guys will go away to college and then return and slot back in with us and play professional basketball.
"Even better, they go and play at a higher level in Europe and earn a lot of money."