NBA to launch Africa's first elite training center next year

The NBA will launch Africa's first elite NBA basketball training center next year, a major step forward in the continent's player development.

The NBA, with the Sports for Education and Economic Development Project organization, announced its plan Wednesday for the NBA Academy Africa, which will be located in Thies, Senegal. The academy is the NBA's sixth elite training center around the world but first in Africa and is scheduled to open in 2017.

The NBA, with local African federations, will identify an inaugural pool of 12 elite prospects who will receive scholarships and be trained at the academy.

"The creation of NBA Academy Africa marks a significant milestone in the evolution of the NBA on the African continent, and the focus on elite player development speaks to our commitment to basketball excellence," said Amadou Gallo Fall, the NBA's VP and managing director for Africa. "SEED shares our goal of providing top African prospects with comprehensive training, education, and life skills development so they have the resources to achieve on the court and in life.

"As we continue building a predictable development path for our youth, I am confident that the number of African players in the NBA will continue to grow too."

The NBA launched three academies in China (Hangzhou, Jinan and Urumqi) in October, has the NBA Global Academy planned in Australia and NBA Academy India which will open in 2017 in Delhi.

Each academy will be staffed by NBA-trained coaches with focus on player development, education, leadership, character development and life skills for male and female prospects. There will be under-16 and under-18 teams and the top students at each center will be selected for travel teams to play internationally.

NBA Academy Africa is the latest in the league's continued commitment to developing basketball and youth in Africa junior programs already in Cameroon, Mozambique, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Uganda, Senegal and South Africa. Basketball without Borders, the NBA and FIBA's global development and community outreach program, has been held in Africa 14 times and has helped produce nine former campers who were drafted by NBA teams.

The SEED Project helps Senegalese boys and girls between ages 13 and 17 in schools around Dakar and Thies and has helped graduates enroll in universities around the world.

"SEED Project is thrilled to partner with the NBA to develop young talents from Africa," said SEED Project executive director Mohamed Niang, whose organization has helped develop Minnesota's Gorgui Dieng among its graduates. "Our organization has a rich tradition of producing student athletes that are able to compete at the highest level, and we welcome the opportunity to work alongside the NBA to continue inspiring, enabling, and supporting the holistic development of our youth."