The Basketball Academy has been making strides to find their niche in the world of Florida high school basketball. An intelligent choice to be a member of the FHSAA keeps all teams playing full schedules. The Basketball Academy will feature 3 teams this year including a post graduate team playing junior colleges and some national tournaments. The next team is the high school national team. They will play a variety of FHSAA opponents as well as some out of state tournament play.
I'm probably going to get picked on by Coach Vince Walden. But, I'm going to call their young squad their Development team. This roster will feature mainly sophomores that will make the transition to the National team as their games improve and they move toward their senior year. Vince did tell me that this team will be playing a good schedule that should feature some smaller school (that would be like Class 3A and down in the FHSAA) varsity play.
I've gone out of my way to catch some games over the past 8 years hoping to see the ultra-athletes that the Basketball Academy has become known for. There have been seasons where you wonder exactly who was going to show up and play. Vince Walden assured me that it won't be like that as he described his three year vision on Saturday. I think it is great that the development team of the academy has decided to follow this and make it a mission to continue to attract top talent and offer a real developmental opportunity both athletically and academically with having the IMG Academy School onsite. It is a vision for Coach Walden to be able to place yet more players at the various collegiate ranks. It was nice to hear him make those comments that it would be nice to place every player at the academy in a college program. The tough job of placing "X" amount of players per year is going to come down to the reality of the level that each has the ability play. So, all of you players out there, remember that there is more than just Division I college programs to consider.
You can't deny the concept doesn't sound like basketball paradise. Wake up, a quick walk to the cafeteria for breakfast, and off to classes. Lunch break, an afternoon study session before your 2 hour workout begins. A not so quick walk to the cafeteria for dinner and a slower walk back to the dorm where you collapse on your bed. It's hard to crack the smile that started the day. But, you know your game is getting better. Oh yeah, don't forget those strength and conditioning workouts on top of everything else.
Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Who wouldn't want to take the opportunity to be a part of the Basketball Academy at IMG Academy? You get a staff includes task masters like Vince Walden, Dan Barto, Nate Vander Sluis, and Mike Moreau (to name a few). They put players through grueling drill sessions and challenge each player to get better every day. It looks like their formula for success is continuing to grow with the ability to field three teams again this year. Top national and international players continue to find the Basketball Academy a place to hone their skills. It's actually a place they call home.
Thanks to Vince Walden and Dan Barto for the info on what is happening for this year and the future to come!