NBA Africa academy to open in Senegal

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Senegal's national teams - men and women - have traditionally been among the strongest in Africa

The US National Basketball Association (NBA) has announced it will open its first African training academy in Senegal early next year.

Amadou Gallo Fall, the NBA's vice-president for Africa, told the BBC the centre would train boys and girls aged between 16 and 18.

He said the centre would be part of its global network of elite training academies.

Several Africans have played for top teams in the NBA league.

Mr Fall, who is originally from Senegal, said the pan-African academy would use its network to scout for players from around the continent.

He said the players would be given access to facilities and resources available to elite players including nutritionists, personal coaches and physiotherapists.

The centre will be in Thies, 60km (40 miles) east of the capital, Dakar.

Senegal's national teams - men and women - have traditionally been among the strongest in Africa.

Mr Fall said those who don't make it to the NBA would have other avenues, such as "other great leagues around the world, including the NBA development league or in US universities".

He said there were 14 African-born players on the NBA opening roster this year, including Senegal's Gorgui Dieng and Cameroon's Pascal Siakam.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Senegal's Gorgui Dieng was on the NBA's opening roster

He added the NBA had a long association with the continent, citing legendary players such as Hakeem Olajuwon, Manute Bol and Dikembe Mutombo.

"That generation has paved the way and they've inspired and ushered a significant number of other young players over the years, a lot of them from Senegal," he said.

The NBA launched three academy centres in China in October, one in India last month and is planning to open another global centre based in Australia.

The NBA held its first game in Africa in 1 August 2015 in the South African city of Johannesburg.