The National Basketball Association (NBA) and SEED Project (Sports for Education and Economic Development), a non-profit organization based in Thies, Senegal that uses basketball as a platform to engage youth in academic, athletic and leadership programs, today announced their plan to launch NBA Academy Africa, an elite basketball training center in Thies for the top male and female prospects from throughout Africa. NBA Academy Africa, the first of its kind on the continent and the NBA’s sixth elite training center globally, is scheduled to open in spring 2017.

The NBA will conduct scouting programs with local federations across Africa to identify the inaugural pool of 12 elite prospects who will receive scholarships and training at NBA Academy Africa.

“The creation of NBA Academy Africa marks a significant milestone in the evolution of the NBA on the African continent, and the focus on elite player development speaks to our commitment to basketball excellence,” said NBA Vice President and Managing Director for Africa, Amadou Gallo Fall. “SEED shares our goal of providing top African prospects with comprehensive training, education, and life skills development so they have the resources to achieve on the court and in life. As we continue building a predictable development path for our youth, I am confident that the number of African players in the NBA will continue to grow too.”

“SEED Project is thrilled to partner with the NBA to develop young talents from Africa,” said SEED Project Executive Director Mohamed Niang. “Our organization has a rich tradition of producing student athletes that are able to compete at the highest level, and we welcome the opportunity to work alongside the NBA to continue inspiring, enabling, and supporting the holistic development of our youth.”

The announcement of NBA Academy Africa follows the launch of academies in Hangzhou, Jinan and Urumqi, China in October 2016, the planned launch of NBA Global Academy, the NBA’s elite training center at Basketball Australia’s Centre of Excellence at the Australian Institute of Sport, and the planned launch of NBA Academy India, the NBA’s elite training center in Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) that will open in April 2017.

NBA Academies include educational development for top international male and female prospects and mark the NBA’s most significant investment in elite player development. The initiative will support existing international basketball academies by exposing elite prospects to NBA-level coaching, facilities and competition and by providing a global framework for elite-level prospects to maximize their success.

These academies will employ a holistic, 360-degree approach to player development extending beyond the court by focusing on education, leadership, character development and life skills. The initiative builds on the NBA’s existing grassroots programming, including Jr. NBA and NBA 3X, which engaged more than 12 million youth globally during the 2015-16 season.

Each elite training center will be staffed with NBA-trained coaches to foster the development of prospects on and off the court, both during and after their basketball careers. Each center will house under-16 and under-18 teams that will compete against top competition throughout the year. The top students at each center will have an opportunity to be selected for travel teams that will play in international tournaments and exhibition games. NBA Academies will also aim to foster the development of local basketball support staff.

From 2014-16, SEED Project served as an implementing partner of the “Live, Learn and Play” (LLP) program, a strategic partnership between the NBA and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) designed to build local organizational capacity and positively impact Senegalese boys and girls ages 13-17 in 10 schools in Dakar and Thies. The SEED Project regularly helps its graduates, including Gorgui Dieng (Minnesota Timberwolves; Senegal; Basketball without Borders Africa 2009), enroll in university programs in Africa, Europe and the U.S.

NBA Academy Africa builds on the NBA’s existing basketball and youth development initiatives in Africa, including Jr. NBA programs for boys and girls ages 16 and under in Cameroon, Mozambique, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Uganda, Senegal and South Africa. Basketball without Borders, the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and community outreach program, has been held in Africa 14 times, with nine former BWB Africa campers drafted into the NBA.

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