Surrey Scorchers Basketball Academy
Now in its third year, the Scorchers Academy gives players the opportunity to play top-flight basketball whilst studying for A-Levels or BTECs in a state-of-the-art education establishment. Its team plays in the Southern Conference Academy Basketball League, and has already seen several members of the squad earning spots on the Scorchers’ BBL roster.
“The great thing about our Academy is that we have players of different levels,” said Caylin. “The elite players get exposed to the BBL, they practice with the Scorchers’ BBL squad and sit on the bench for some first-team fixtures. Then we’re working with the beginners to get them up to a level where hopefully one day they can be practicing with the BBL squad."
“It opens their eyes and shows them what things are like at the next level. A lot of them want to play Division One basketball in America, and with our three American players who all played Division One, they can see the standard they need to be at week in, week out.”
“We’re normal sixth form students, we come to school and do our A’Levels, and then alongside that we’ll do our basketball training either in the morning or late afternoon,” explained Academy player Jack Fettes. “Most Academies don’t let you train with the BBL team, but we get to see what it’s like to be professionals. That is a big factor in our improvement.”
“It’s great being able to combine our school work with getting to play with professional players on a weekly basis,” continued team-mate Marc Sylvest. “It’s a great honour but it’s tough, because not only do they have the experience they’re also so much stronger and faster than you. Everything you do, you need to do ten times better. There’s no room for error, and to be able to do that every week really helps us develop. It creates that professional mindset which you can then take into the Academy team.”
“The main thing is where these boys go after this,” said Caylin, who is assisted by Scorchers captain Tayo Ogedengbe. “If I can get four or five of them into University, not necessarily just to play basketball but also to get their degree, that’s success for me.”