It is every young basketball players’ dream – a scholarship to play basketball in the US.
Current Leeds Force Academy player and one of my former team-mates, Daniel Evans, has realised that dream and has recently accepted a scholarship at Phillips Academy Andover in Massachusetts, USA.
The opportunity at the Prep School gives Daniel the chance to develop his skills and show off his talents to prospective colleges for the following season.
Currently the captain of the Force Academy at Allerton High School, the 18-year-old spent the previous two seasons on the Senior Men’s first team roster.
The amount he improved since he first trained with our team is just incredible, however his journey with the club started at a much younger age.
Evans explained: “I first got into basketball at an after school club in Year Four at Alwoodley Primary School.
“Current Force head coach Matt Newby was leading the session and saw some potential in me so invited me down to regular club sessions through the week.
“Ever since I started I fell in love with the game and my passion for it has just grown and grown.”
The timing couldn’t have been better and really confirms last week’s column about the development opportunities at Leeds Force.
Evans has been with the club from the start and made use of every opportunity to take his game to the next level.
Head coach and director of Leeds Force, Newby added: “The fact the Daniel will be stepping on a plane in August, crossing the Atlantic and improving his academic, sporting and life opportunities makes me incredible proud of the pathway we are building in Leeds.
“He is the first to achieve a full scholarship and I hope the example he has set will show young people within our programme and the city of Leeds that sport is an incredible vehicle for young people to open doors both domestically and internationally.
“The strapline for our programme is Inspire, Achieve, Excel and I feel Daniel’s journey encapsulates this.”
With the launch of the academy at Allerton High School in 2013, the ultimate goal was to provide young players a platform to go onto bigger and better things in basketball.
Hopefully this scholarship is just the first for our academy players and will inspire many future players to aim for the same goal.
I asked Daniel what and who inspired him to get to this point and he said: “My first three coaches Ben Pickles, Matt Newby and Paul Hartley are a big one.
“They taught me about what basketball could do for me, where it could take me and what it would take to get there.
“Growing up in the programme as a kid and going to watch the club’s senior team play week in, week out inspired me to want to play the sport when I grew up.
“This is hopefully another stepping stone for me.”
Meanwhile Leeds Force’s British Basketball League first team were trying to inspire in Glasgow on Sunday night.
Following the BBL Trophy Final at the Emirates Arena, thousands of people stayed to watch our encounter against the Rocks.
In a rather low scoring affair, Force stayed true to their game plan and played excellent defence throughout.
After holding Glasgow to just 39 points after three quarters, it took a late outburst from GB Olympian Kieran Achara to hold us off.
We eventually fell short 67-59 after some late game fouling, but it was another great example of how competitive we are in this league.
Next up for us are second-placed Worcester Wolves this Friday (27th March) at Carnegie Sports Arena.
So if you want to be inspired, why not come down and see some top flight basketball.