Basketball has long been a truly international sport. Some nations have been more successful in implementing the theories and practices of good ol’ Dr. Naismith than others, of course. The United Kingdom would be one of those less assertive roundball non-dynasites, but for how much longer?
With the 2012 Olympics set to begin in London, British basketball is on the rise. The national men’s team, under the leadership of Chicago Bulls guard Luol Deng, is preparing to engage in a rather quixotic — yet proud — quest to protect their turf this summer.
Perhaps more importantly, the basketball establishment in Britain has a unique opportunity to promote the sport to younger players, in an attempt to secure the future of hoops in the United Kingdom. To that end, they’ve hired former NBA player and Kansas Jayhawk Paul Mokeski to coach the Great Britain Futures team. British hoops site Hoopsfix.com posted some of Mokeski’s hopeful comments recently:
“I am excited and honoured to be the head coach of the GB Futures team. This will be my third year with the GB program and the experience has been very rewarding. The Futures programme is very important in the development of young players and gets them ready for the transition into the senior squads. This year the Futures program is the beginning of our preparation for the Olympics in London this summer.”
If you don’t happen to remember Mokeski’s college career (it was the 1970s, after all; it’s quite possible Mokeski himself doesn’t recall every detail), there’s a more recent connection to US college hoops. Former US college stars Matthew Bryan-Amaning (pictured), Ovie Soko and Ogo Adegboye will star on the team alongside lesser-known UK-bred talents.
In fact, the UK’s relationship to, and hopes for, basketball are incredibly similar to what we see between the US and soccer. If England and associated countries wish to continue to send their best players overseas to face top competition, that can only be good for the talent pool in college hoops.