Thursday, September 9, 2010

A New Development Model For Puerto Rico's Elite Youth Prospects

Puerto Rico doesn't need to make any excuses given it's rich basketball history.
Butch Lee, Georgie Torres, Fantauzzi ,Raymond Dalmau, Piculin, Jerome Mince and Eddie Casiano are recognized around the world as the "Original Puerto Rico Playmakers". Puerto Rico has had some really talented and accomplished coaches like Flor Melendez and Julio Toro who are legendary in this part of the world! History will show that many of the names above and many that were not mentioned paved the way and put PR on the basketball map! As a student of the game and a self proclaimed "basketball junkie" I appreciate the need to study the past and learn from it but also appreciate the importance of leaving the past in the past! Those who spend to much time in the past tend to get lost and many times miss out on what is happening in the present. This seems to be happening within the basketball community in Puerto Rico.

So instead of focusing on what is in the "rearview", lets begin to ask some critical questions like,

What are we doing to help develop elite players in Puerto Rico?
Why are we not identifying, developing and nurturing elite players through a year round National Development Program?
Why are our most talented prospects playing on teams and in leagues where there are playing time restrictions and games are played on concrete?
Why are we not teaching our elite prospects how to play defense? We have kids on our 12U and 13U National Teams who have yet to be taught "ball/man", "help/recover" and many other basic defensive principles.
How can we expect to compete with the rest of the world when we are doing the same stuff we did 5,10, 15 years ago?
Where are the elite clinics, camps, showcase games and events that will attract top talent to PR?
Why are we playing Small Fry and YBOA and not AAU and EYBL?

I could go on and on and on but lets start here. The time for change has come and the problem is those who control basketball are reluctant to rock the boat! Introducing a National Elite Youth Development Program which works with our most talented prospects year round is step one. Little Lads and ACB are wonderful leagues which offer the masses a platform to learn and play recreationally but neither were created to develop elite players!
They are businesses whose mission is to make money versus nurturing and developing elite players. The sooner we recognize that the existing "club model" is flawed and a new model which should mirror what Canada, China and the USA have recently implemented is the right way forward to reclaiming our position atop the FIBA Rankings!