Wilson's chance to take it to the top

PUBLISHED: 12:25 05 July 2007 | UPDATED: 15:10 12 May 2010

ROYSTON basketball player Nathan Wilson will have the opportunity to play at the top level of English basketball following the announcement of a unique link-up between Leopards basketball club and Barking Abbey s basketball academy. The Big Cats will use

ROYSTON basketball player Nathan Wilson will have the opportunity to play at the top level of English basketball following the announcement of a unique link-up between Leopards basketball club and Barking Abbey's basketball academy.

The Big Cats will use the best youngsters to back up their senior players as they look to give young players a chance to shine at EBL Division One level.

The academy takes many of the best players between the ages of 16 and 19 from across the UK, and offers them the chance of quality coaching and the chance to progress in the sport.

England under-18 international Wilson has already played for Leopards as well as Barking Academy and is expected to be a regular in their first team next season.

Last season Abbey finished runners-up in the National Schools Championship. They are coached by Mark Clarke, Great Britain women's coach, and Lloyd Gardner.

Both Clarke and Gardner have links with Leopards, with Gardner running the club's junior section and Lloyd acting as assistant coach for the first team.

"We're looking to provide a European-style link between junior and senior basketball," said Clarke.

"We want there to be a link between the youngsters who join us at 16 and a senior club which they can progress to."

The move comes as Leopards confirmed they will not be signing any import players for the new season - and will concentrate on players based in the south east.

"We have made the decision on both financial and practical grounds," said general manager Dave Ryan.

"Several of the import players we have signed over the last three years have seriously let us down.

"They cost a lot of money to get into the country and have registered, but they make little effort to do the limited amount of community coaching.

"We will concentrate on signing players in this country and will concentrate on developing British talent like Nathan Wilson."

Wilson, a former Greneway pupil, will have the chance to make an impact in the Leopards first team when they host American college San Jose University at Wodson Park in Ware on August 18.

The Californian college has produced a total of 15 players who have progressed to the NBA, and will provide an extremely tough test for the Big Cats.

- The game tips off at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced at £6 including programme for adults and £3 for children.

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