Under 19 Men 2017/18 Review
A review of the Nottingham Academy Under 19 Mens Basketball Team 2017-2018
The U’19 Men compete in the Academy Basketball League (ABL) Northern Conference. With an influx of new talent to the Academy this year, the team is literally old and new, with 9 incoming year 12’s and 8 existing year 13/14’s.
As such the early part of the year was dictated by the need to get these new players up to speed. Jackson Bisungu and Ernestas Zemaitis have been limited at U’19’s due to injuries and the competition for spots, but both have shown real improvement throughout the season, with Jackson demonstrating a knack for scoring while Ernestas has worked hard to figure out team concepts and be a facilitator for other players, using the early morning sessions to help hone his game. Levi Plumb-Kelly has been one of our most consistent workers, using every spare minute to improve his game and this has paid off with a couple of excellent defensive showings as well as Levi’s improved jump shot. David Onyinah has been an example to the rest of the Academy, excelling in the class room while still attending all his basketball sessions, including 7.20am sessions regularly. David’s improvement is almost universal across his game, and we look forward to seeing some aggression out of him next season. The new contingent has been led by Tyreese Hudson, Joel Brown, Oliver Sporton and Kris Kestenis. Joel has done a great job as a point guard this year, and we have seen an increased commitment on defence from him in the second half of the season, as well as some hot shooting games from the 3pt line. Oliver has proven to be one of our more high IQ players, and although his shot is only just returning after he made some changes to his form, his passing and knack for doing the little things has allowed him to make solid contributions to the team. Despite injury Kris has emerged as one of the more talented scorers in the Academy, and once he regains his commitment to the defensive side of the ball he will be a threat next year. Tyreese has had maybe the most impactful season of any first year, having several big scoring games punctuated by a number of highlight dunks this season. Ty’s progress as a leader is the most important part of his season however, and along with his improved jump shot we will expect more even more from him next year.
A number of returning 6th Formers have been hampered by injury this season; Shakiel Clarke was unable to play earlier in the year while Billy Benson started the season strong before a season ending knee injury took him out of the rotation. Billy has still been a regular at training and never misses an opportunity to support his team during games. Shakiel was able to come back towards the end of the season and contributed his usual toughness and defence to the team. Marcus Granger was also forced to back off his commitment early in the season due to work commitments. This left a core of Richard Caninhas, Charlie Marsh, Callum Davey, Arturs Ruskulis and Malachi Nelson. Richard has backed off basketball to focus on his academics, but has still been a regular at training and games, and has had several games this season where he made big plays for the team. Richard has matured on court and his decision making has really improved this year. Charlie Marsh has been a spark plug for the team since joining the Academy, and his vocal leadership has been a key aspect alongside his high energy play and fearless drives. Charlie’s partner in crime Callum “50 Cal” Davey might be this seasons most improved player; having shot 0% from the 3 point line last season, Callum has turned himself into a spot up shooter who knocked down almost 40% of his long range attempts this year, earning his teammate given nickname. Combined with his improved scoring around the basket and improved defence, Callum has made massive strides in the last two years.
The final pair of students have been with the Basketball Academy for 3 years, and have been members of the Academy even longer, starting with sessions set up by Mr Philips at Ransom Road. Arturs has shown incredible improvement in his time with us, which is no surprise considering his exceptional attitude and approach to life. Arturs’ positivity, selflessness and sense of responsibility are exceptional, and this has resulted in an ability to score the ball, get to the basket and play harassing on ball defence. Meanwhile Malachi has seen some serious improvements of his own; having never played outside of school before joining the Basketball Academy, Malachi is now playing for the National League Division 2 winning Nottingham Hoods as well as starting for the Hoods Division 4 Men’s team, which Arturs also plays for.
Malachi has developed from a talented athlete with minimal knowledge of the game into a multi-talented point guard with the potential to be a high level defender. Malachi has made huge strides and become the leader of our ABL team in the last year, and his easy going but attentive personality makes him a pleasure to work with.
The team started the season strong with wins against Sheffield College 99 – 49 and Vision West Notts College 68 – 63. The boys struggled in back to back games against top 2 team Aston Manor and likewise struggled in their two games against league winners Stoke On Trent College, losing all four games against the top two teams by between 25 and 30 points. The U’19’s rallied strong against the other teams in the league however, taking games from South Cheshire College and Carmel College and losing a thrilling game to eventual Third placed team QE College 57 – 71. League structure meant the team lost games at Archbishop Beck and Tyne Met Colleges without the opportunity to play a return game, but the squad showed improvement in almost all of their return games this year demonstrating that hard work does indeed pay off. Although the team will sorely miss those players leaving at the end of this season, the development of our Year 12’s means we have much to look forward to in the near future. We are proud of all of our leavers and the way they have gone about their journeys at the Academy, and we wish them all the best in the future.