City Sports Report

New York Basketball Summit provides professional opportunities

Brian Luby, Louis Young and Willie Negron
Brian Luby and Louis Young (photo by Derrel Jazz Johnson)

Brian Luby and Louis Young (photo by Derrel Jazz Johnson)

Brian Luby and Willie Negron

Brian Luby and Willie Negron

Willie Negron and Louis Young of New York Lightning (photo by Derrel Jazz Johnson)

Willie Negron and Louis Young of New York Lightning (photo by Derrel Jazz Johnson)

Coach Eddie Gonzalez with Marcellous Perez and team (Photo by Derrel Jazz Johnson)

Coach Eddie Gonzalez with Marcellous Perez and team (Photo by Derrel Jazz Johnson)

Marcellous Perez, Isabella Perez and Kendra Murphy (Photo by Derrel Jazz Johnson)

Marcellous Perez, Isabella Perez and Kendra Murphy (Photo by Derrel Jazz Johnson)

New York Lighting Head Coach Willie Negron was selected to participate in the New York Basketball Summit presented by McNeil Sports Group, an exposure camp earlier this week that took place at Riverbank State Park in Harlem, New York.  Negron was proud to be selected to coach in the camp.  “I was very excited…there are many coaches in this area”, said an honored Negron, adding “for four games I gave it my all…they were very pleased with me.”  What was the purpose of the camp?  “It’s an exposure camp where we try to teach the guys from right and wrong…it’s about job opportunities.”  Indeed, it is a camp that is watched by scout and owners of teams both nationally and internationally, professional and semi-professional.

Mark McNeil, owner of McNeil Sports Group, the sports management agency that held the exposure camp, talked about why it is needed. “It’s a huge demand for American basketball players all over the world,” and McNeil Sports Group hopes to make those connections.  “A lot don’t know how to market or showcase their skills to teams all over the world, so we saw a need for that platform,” he said.  I asked if the camp lived up to expectations.  “Definitely has exceeded expectations. There are a lot of hidden gems…they are very hungry.”  What create that hunger within these players, I asked McNeil. “They didn’t come up with the idea of entitlement…they are hungry to get an opportunity.”  McNeil gave some advice to those who are seeking employment that is very realistic.  “It’s hard to make a career out of basketball,” he said, adding “there are a lot of jobs in sports, you just have to know how to find them.”

Brian Luby, Director of International Basketball Operations at McNeil Sports Group, discussed some of the success stories of the exposure camps.  ‘We had four other camps this year in other areas of the country that were successful and we heard a lot about players here”, he said.  McNeil Sports Group “wanted to give (New York area players) an opportunity to showcase their talents” in hopes that it will lead players to obtain professional opportunities playing basketball.  “We’ve had a successful MVP of the Indianapolis camp sign with a team in Spain,” Luby said of one of their success stories, adding “a lot (of players) have gotten connected with agents and semi-pro teams.”  Simply put, the goal of the McNeil Sports Group at their exposure camps is to get the players to the next step.  The exposure camps were essentially created out of the need of the players, and McNeil Sports Group’s desire to “give (players) a bigger platform” to display their talents.

One of those players is Louis Young of the Bronx, who plays for Coach Negron with the New York Lightning, who spoke with CitySportsReport.com about his time at the camp.  “The experience was very different. It was intense.  These type of camps are really about defense.  I hope I can get some coaches to tell me what I need to work on to become a better player.  I’m just learning how much defense is such a big part of the game,” a very passionate Young said, who added “it helps you get the contracts we are fighting for.”

I noticed, from Jacksonville, North Carolina, not because of his basketball skills, as he had yet to take the court at when I saw him Monday morning, but of who accompanied him.  Little Isabela Perez quietly slept in her baby stroller while her father sat patiently, periodically checking on her to make sure she was fine.  I asked Perez what inspired him to travel to New York City, along with his daughter and fiancée, Kendra Murphy, for the camp.  “A couple of coaches (from his alma mater Carson Newman) told me to come because they have good opportunities,” he said.  Perez said he gained a lot of experience, and gleamed about meeting a basketball legend who attended the exposure camp on its first day.  “I was honored to be able to speak with Pee Wee Kirkland.”  It was an honor for me to watch the dozens of players who participated in The New York Basketball Summit, and I look forward to continuing to watch their journeys in the world of professional basketball.

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