The NBA’s search for new talent inspires a new kind of hope in Senegal

The National Basketball Assocation’s (NBA) league has opened its first ever “elite training center” in Africa in Senegal to train the continent’s most promising youngsters in its search for a new generation of talent. The center “will be the primary training location for NBA Academy Africa prospects from across the continent,” the NBA says in a statement. The NBA on 26 November commissioned a new training center in Saly, Senegal.

The vast facility, which considers both male and female prospects, will be operated in partnership with Sports for Education and Economic Development (SEED) project, a Senegalese non-profit that leverages basketball to get young athletes involved in academic, athletic and leadership programs.

“We are thrilled to open this new world-class venue in Saly for NBA Academy Africa prospects,” said Amadou Gallo Fall, vice president and managing director of NBA Africa. 

The new facility which features two indoor basketball courts, a multidimensional activity center, a weight room, conference rooms as well as dormitories and educational facilities fosters the hope that trainees follow in the footsteps of the likes of Senegal’s Gorgui Dieng, who is an alumnus of the SEED Project, and went on to land a mammoth $64 million deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2016, and DR Congo’s Bismack Biyombo Sumba at the Charlotte Hornets, the new Senegal center is the latest move in the NBA’s drive to train and unearth new talent and also grow the league’s global popularity as it increasingly competes with soccer leagues and other sports.

The NBA has opened seven similar training centers across China, India, Australia and Mexico since October 2016 as part of the NBA’s global push to educate talented youngsters, aged 14-20.