Two young Kiwi talents have been selected for the prestigious Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Global Camp in the United States. It will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina, 15-17 February.
Tall Fern Charlisse Leger-Walker has become the first-ever female from the New Zealand system to be selected, while Junior Tall Black and Westlake Boys’ High School student Sam Mennenga has also been called up.
Run in partnership by the NBA and FIBA, there have been 56 BWB camps in 35 cities in 28 countries on six continents since 2001. Of the BWB alumni, 53 have been drafted into the NBA. The most recent NBA Draft in 2018 saw two former BWB Global participants selected in the top 11 picks.
Today, FIBA and the NBA announced the top 63 boys and girls from 31 countries and regions who will attend.
This is the fifth BWB Global Camp, where players are selected ‘based on their outstanding basketball skills and leadership abilities’. While a small selection of Kiwis are often invited to attend the BWB Asia Camp each year, through a Basketball New Zealand and FIBA talent identification process, the BWB Global Camp is an even tougher club to be in.
The Global is offered to invite-only attendees who are considered the best in their age-group from around the world. It includes being hosted and trained by NBA and WNBA stars, and coincides with the chance to attend the NBA All Star game and to meet the stars.
Leger-Walker, who played a big role in helping the Tall Ferns secure a Bronze Medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, says this invitation is a great privilege and one she’s looking forward to.
“I expect to be challenged by coaches who have experience at a high level and maybe even on an international stage. This opportunity is very exciting because it will allow me to learn and grow as a player, and it will also enable me to identify what I will need to work on to add to my skill set. Plus it is also around the NBA All Stars game, so I might get to watch some of that!”
Sam Mennenga was selected to be a part of the Junior Tall Blacks in the 2018 Asia championships in Thailand where the team placed second and qualified for the FIBA World Championships, which will be held in Greece July 2019. The 17 year old says this camp is a big deal due to the opportunity to play against the best high school players in the world.
“I am excited about the Camp because I will be able to meet some NBA players and attend the NBA All-Star Game. I am also excited to learn from the coaches to help improve my game and get me to the next level.
“My goal in basketball is to eventually make it to the NBA. To complete this goal I hope to go to America next year on a scholarship and play college basketball,” says Mennenga.
Leger-Walker says she’s looking forward to making new connections and friends from all over the world whilst learning more about the game. The youngest-ever Tall Ferns says she’s enjoyed a summer holiday from St. Peters Cambridge School and has taken a small break from the court. As part of that holiday, she and her family went to Colorado to visit older sister Krystal (also a Tall Fern).
“In terms of training I haven’t been playing much basketball, just doing my own trainings to stay in shape and fit. Occasionally I will get into a gym and get shots up and get in a good workout. When I was in the US, I would train with my older sister as they (the University of Northern Colorado) are in season at the moment. However, these next few weeks I will be getting back into basketball a bit more so I can start training for the camp and also 3x3 for school that is coming up soon,” says Leger-Walker.
2019 NBA All-Stars Nikola Jokić (Denver Nuggets; Serbia) and Nikola Vučević (Orlando Magic; Montenegro), 2018 No. 1 overall draft pick and former BWB camper Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns; Bahamas; BWB Global 2016), and 2017-18 All Rookie Second Team member Bogdan Bogdanović (Sacramento Kings; Serbia) will coach the top high school age campers from Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe. They will be joined by a number of former NBA veterans and US College coaches.
All participants will take part in basketball positional development, strength and conditioning, life skills sessions, and games and competitions during the day, followed by visits to NBA All Star events in the evening. NBA and FIBA players and coaches will coach the participants of the camp. NIKE is the presenting partner for the camp, and each camper will be provided with NIKE basketball shoes, uniforms, and other apparel. Participants’ flights, ground transportation, food, lodging and insurance during the camp will also be provided.
The following is a complete list of players participating in the fifth annual BWB Global Camp supplied by FIBA and the NBA (rosters are subject to change):
*NBA Academies Prospect