The NBA announced that it will open its first academy in Africa next year as the league continues its effort to discover talent from all around the globe.
It will be the sixth international academy that the NBA has opened and will be based in Thies, Senegal. NBA academies have already been introduced in China and Australia. Another academy will open in India in April.
The NBA is hoping to open its Senegal-based academy in May.
Brooks Meek, NBA vice president of international basketball operations, believes these international academies to be “the biggest investment the NBA has ever made in basketball development globally.”
In the 2016 NBA draft a record 26 international players were selected.
Bringing the game to places like Asia and Africa allows the NBA to attract new audiences and even presents them with new marketing opportunities.
This is not the first time the NBA has set its sights on Africa. In August 2015, the NBA held an exhibition game in Johannesburg. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was in attendance. Speaking on the importance of the game Silver claimed that it was part of the league’s plan to have a preseason and regular season game in Africa as a way to promote the league on a different continent.
In April of this year the NBA signed a trans-African broadcast deal in more hopes to reel in fans from around the globe.
In the last 15 years the NBA has used its international Basketball without Borders camps in order to develop the game at a more fundamental level. The new academy is set to change that. It will be focused on developing elite talent in hopes to see participants one day reach the professional level.
Nine NBA players have emerged from Basketball without Borders camps in Africa, including Cameroonian Luc Mbah a Moute.
Thanks to Sports for Education and Economic Development, the NBA will have access to existing facilities. NBA trained coaches and other support staff will be provided by the NBA for the academy.
The NBA is currently scouting for the African academy’s first class of 12 young players.