The NBA is taking another step forward in its global expansion efforts.
With NBA Academies — elite basketball training centers that focus on the development of top international male and female prospects — being opened around the world, the league is forming an advisory committee to help steer each academy to success.
On the committee: Two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash; longtime NBA coach and assistant with USA Basketball's 1992 Dream Team P.J. Carlesimo; retired NBA players Adonal Foyle and Ronny Turiaf; 1996 Olympic gold medalist Jennifer Azzi; and Patrick Hunt, president of the World Association of Basketball Coaches.
Each committee member will have a specialized role within the academies. Nash, for example, will focus on player development, while Carlesimo will recruit academy coaches with NBA experience. Azzi will oversee curriculum development for the women's portion of the program.
“I’m really excited to help guide the strategy behind the league’s academies around the world,” Nash, who was born in South Africa and raised in Canada, said in a statement. “The level of international talent in the NBA is at an all-time high, and these academies will be instrumental in identifying and training the next wave of great international players.”
The NBA currently has academies in Africa, Australia, China and India. The first-ever NBA Academy Games — a series of exhibition games between prospects from each academy — took place in Australia this week.
“NBA Academies are the logical next step in the league’s global grassroots basketball activities but are much more narrowly focused on helping elite-level junior players reach their full potential," said NBA commissioner Adam Silver when the NBA Academies initiative was launched last October. "Top international prospects will benefit from a complete approach to player development that combines NBA-quality coaching, training and competition with academics and personal development.”
Although this year's draft saw a decrease in international players selected, the NBA's international impact has never been higher. At the start of the 2016-17 season, a record 113 international players from a record 41 countries and territories — including stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kyrie Irving and Joel Embiid — were on NBA rosters.