OKC Hoops Community Reaches New Heights With Jr. NBA
by Jimmy Do | okcthunder.com
Basking in the afterglow of an undefeated tournament run, the Oklahoma Bearcats brought their oversized championship trophy for a group photo on the Thunder’s baseline. Thunder guard Raymond Felton took notice and paused his pregame warmup to playfully crash the girls’ celebratory moment.
Battling five other teams from all over the country on their way to a 6-0 record, the Bearcats from Edmond earned the Jr. NBA 12U Girls 3v3 Championship. Also joining the girls teams on the court for the cameras at Chesapeake Energy Arena was 9-year-old Avery from Yukon. She placed in the top three of the 11U Girls Division at the 2018 Local Jr. NBA Skills Challenge to qualify for Regionals, where she outscored the rest of the competition.
Thus, Avery punched her ticket to New York City to compete in the Jr. NBA Skills Challenge Finals after beating out over 400 hopeful participants nationwide. On top of that, the Yukon native will also attend the 2018 NBA Draft in June.
Before the Thunder tipped off for the regular-season finale at home, the young hoopers gathered on the court inside Chesapeake Energy Arena for pictures in honor of their Jr. NBA success.
The Thunder brought Jr. NBA events to Oklahoma by hosting the first local Jr. NBA Skills Challenge at the Cox Convention Center in February.
In addition, Oklahoma City was selected as one of 10 cities nationwide to host a Jr. NBA 3v3 League. Solid Rock Basketball in Edmond was selected as the host site, generating eight local teams that qualified for the National Championship in Atlanta in March.
The achievements of Avery and the Bearcats were significant because they not only represented Oklahoma, but also showed that the game of basketball has won the hearts of boys and girls in local communities across the state.
“It is encouraging to see the state of Oklahoma embrace programs such as Jr. NBA, which focuses on the development of the sport,” said Michelle Matthews, youth basketball programs manager for the Thunder.
Working with the Jr. NBA represented a milestone for Thunder Youth Basketball in its mission to spread the passion for hoops for young Oklahomans.
“We aim to continue bringing opportunities to the state that embrace the development of the young athlete on and off the court,” said Matthews. “We couldn’t be more proud of how well these teams and individuals represented our state on a national stage.”