Plymouth Raiders build bridges with an Hawaiian high
MARJON Plymouth Raiders hope to create a new link and send their top prospects to a high school in the USA.
Raiders coach Gavin Love has added two players from the BBL club's new Academy at Discovery College in Plymouth to his roster this season.
They are shooting-guard Jordan Blount, 15, and small-forward Tristan Hall, 17.
Raiders hope Blount will next summer be the first of a production line of talent leaving Plymouth for Maryknoll High School in Honolulu, Hawaii to further their basketball education.
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Raiders' Academy boss Jay Marriott said: "We've formed a partnership with a high school in the USA.
"We're in the advanced stages of talking about them taking Jordan next year. People can start to see how serious we are now."
Marriott and Raiders will continue to monitor Blount's progress through contacts at Maryknoll.
Blount is one of 14 students, who form Raiders' new Academy year-one intake this September.
The ideal scenario is school-leavers complete a two-year BTEC in sport at Discovery College before being ready to begin a scholarship in college basketball in the USA.
Raiders believe Blount is so good he will be ready to start making real strides to realising that goal in 2013.
Marriott, whose ultimate goal is to produce top prospects and for Raiders to become synonymous for that in British basketball, said: "Losing Jordan will weaken our programme short-term, but it's us saying, 'When players are ready, they'll go'.
"We're not going to keep them to indulge us trying to win things."
Marriott added: "Maryknoll deal very well with international players – and it's in Honolulu, Hawaii, so it will be an absolutely awful place to go and play!
"They're really interested in talking to us about taking more players and us being the main provider for their international programme.
"They're currently a middle-ranking high school in basketball, but they want to take it to the next level."
Ambitious Marriott is busy trying to extend the Maryknoll route by adding a link with neighbouring Brigham Young University in Hawaii.
Marriott is close to Brigham Young assistant coach David Evans, who he befriended in his playing days.
If Marriott is successful, he could create a complete pathway for youngsters to graduate from Raiders' Academy, and hone their game and complete their education in the USA before returning to the Pavilions to turn professional.
Raiders' current captain, Anthony Rowe, followed that trail previously blazed by another former club captain, Allister Gall, who retired from basketball in 2010.
No-one since Gall and Rowe, now 26, has come through.
Marriott said: "The big link for us is Brigham Young. They're going to work with Jordan every weekend while he's out there.
"He'll be able to get involved in the college's summer practices, so when he's ready to step up again he'll be ready."
Marriott added: "The most important thing is we have a pathway so we can look after players.
"We could go after sending Jordan to a big-time high school and then sit back and think, 'Right, we've got rid of Jordan'.
"We want to send players into a standard of basketball they can manage, so they can have a real go and it's not just down to pot luck whether they make it.
"I know David Evans because I almost went to Brigham Young when I was playing. We've kept in touch ever since.
"Now I've got the chance to be a coach I'm starting to call all these people I know."