Young basketball players from the area demonstrated their skills in a recent competition held at the YM-YWHA of North Jersey. The Jr. NBA/WNBA Skills Challenge allowed participants the opportunity to showcase their abilities in the core basketball skills of dribbling, passing, and shooting.
The Feb. 10 event featured local boys and girls, between the ages of 7 and 14, contending for the regional competition, to be held at the Nets Training Facility in East Rutherford sometime this spring. The 167 participants, who were separated by age and gender, competed in a timed skills display "very similar to the Skills Challenge they do during the NBA All-Star Weekend," said John Kerr, Youth and Adult Sports director at the Y, who helped run the event.
The contestants began the challenge by shooting a lay-up. If they were unable to make it in three shots, they were assessed a two-second penalty. They moved on to the charity stripe for a foul shot. Again, they had three opportunities, with another two-second penalty added to their time if they couldn’t make it. From the free throw line, it was on to one side of the court for speed dribbling in and out of cones. Next was a chest-pass at midcourt, followed by another speed-dribble on the other side of the court and a lay-up to finish things off.
This is the first year of the Jr. NBA/WNBA Skills Challenge, and competitions were held at ’50 sites nationwide. Each local champion from his or her respective age and gender groups will be eligible to participate in the regional competition. There will be ‘5 regional competitions held throughout the country.
"They compare each winner’s times to all the other locals from the [their respective] region," said Kerr. "Then the Jr. NBA contacts the players concerning who advances. It’s all based on time." The ultimate goal is to advance to Orlando, Fla., for the national finals, held during the NBA Finals.
Each site was sent a kit and specific instructions from the Jr. NBA/WNBA. The Y felt privileged to be the only facility in the area to host the event, Kerr said.