The top 66 players, both boys and girls, from 16 countries were invited to last week’s first ever Basketball Without Borders Americas camp in the Bahamas to receive instruction from NBA players and coaches.
Dwight Powell, Sasha Vujacic and former WNBA star Ebony Hoffman were on hand along with multiple NBA assistant coaches, including the Spurs’ James Borrego and the Hawks’ Darvin Ham. The program has produced 46 NBA players since its inception in 2001 and three Americas participants—Kelly Olynyk, Thon Maker and Bruno Caboclo—were on rosters to start the 2016-17 NBA season.
SLAM had a chance to catch up with current free agent Tiago Splitter, who was a guest coach at the event. Splitter is the first Brazilian-born player to win a NBA Championship (2014 with the Spurs) and is currently a free agent after spending the last half of the season with the 76ers.
SLAM: What has it been like coaching these talented players?
Tiago Splitter: It’s been great. I wish I had this opportunity when I was their age. Those kids are going to take what they learn here back to their teams at home. It’s all about their future and about their education as a basketball player.
SLAM: Have you ever been to the Bahamas before? What’s the schedule like outside of the camp?
TS: It’s my first time here…We’ve been busy most of the day, from like 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. I work out a bit and then I go to the pool or the beach for a little bit. We’re staying in a nice hotel and the weather has been nice.
SLAM: How’s your free agency going? Any updates?
TS: I haven’t signed anything yet. There are some ideas, some teams that want me. I’m just waiting, all of the big names are getting signed and then they go after the real people like me [laughs].
SLAM: You spent a few months with the 76ers last season. How good do you think they can be this year?
TS: They definitely have a lot of talent. I’m excited to see how Brett Brown has them play. They signed [J.J.] Redick, a much-needed shooter, but they just have to stay healthy.