Former NBA player John Amaechi has critized the lack of enthusiasm of home- grown coaches in the United Kingdom following last year’s Olympic Games.
Great Britain, led by Chicago Bulls’ Luol Deng were eliminated in the first round but secured a first Olympic win since 1948 over China. The women’s side however failed to get a win in their five games played.
Amaechi, an ex-Cleveland and Orlando forward claims that nothing has changed in the UK since the Olympics and the problem lies with the British coaches. Despite the appointments of Damian Jennings to the GB women’s senior squad and Matt Johnson to the under-20 women’s team plus the amount of homegrown coaches in the British Basketball league, Amaechi isn’t impressed.
Speaking to the Daily Star newspaper, Amaechi said: “We have the talent. We have the potential. The real problem is a lack of will. It’s not just about the lack of funding.
“There is no point having a cheaper facility if the coach you get is s**t. We would have to have a cull of all the coaches who are not up to the job.
“Some of them are well-meaning. But some of them can’t even teach a lay-up. I’ve seen it, and it’s across the board – at all levels.
“I’ve never heard of a coach in the UK getting beyond level 3 of their training because that’s when you can get paid. They have to keep learning or the sport will stagnate.
“In the short term, getting rid of coaches might mean less kids have a chance to play basketball. But you have to think long term.
Amaechi, a former England international has spoken out frequently at the need to improve basketball in the UK. As a national side, Great Britain is ranked 23rd in the world with the women placed 24th. The England youth set-up is ranked in 80th position, but that is certain to change following their current run at the under-18 European Championships, where they notched a huge win over world number seven Spain and are in second round action at this time.
Great Britain’s women reached the second round at Eurobasket Women last June, with Johannah Leedham the third highest scorer with 16 points a contest. GB’s under-20 men’s team recently won promotion to Division A following a second-placed finish in the Division B section of the European Championships in Romania.
Devon van Oostrum, who played at Eurobasket 2011 was named Division B MVP and is tipped to play for new GB coach Joe Prunty at Eurobasket in Slovenia.
But with the top players earning their trade abroad, the other problem for Amaechi lies with the domestic league as well. There have been slow signs of improvement, but the British Basketball League is still sometime away from being competitive in European tournaments.
Amaechi said: “Can you blame a gifted athlete for choosing a sport with an easier path to success? The typical player in the British Basketball League earns around £7,000 a year.
“I remain positive. We have as talented a base of young people as anyone in Europe. But we need affordable facilities and a better standard of coaching or the sport will stagnate.”