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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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Harrow student who dreams of playing basketball in the NBA scouted for potential scholarship in America

A 15-year-old boy from Harrow has been identified as a promising candidate for a trip to the USA this summer, where he will compete for a full athletic scholarship to an American college. This exciting opportunity has emerged for a Claremont High School student who has shown exceptional talent on the basketball court.

The story is one many young athletes dream of—playing in a local basketball game, catching the eye of a manager, and being invited to join a bigger team. From there, the dream escalates when a scout spots the potential for greatness, reminiscent of stars like LeBron James, leading to opportunities across the Atlantic.

Year 10 student Justin Fagbenle, a standout player for the Brent Panthers Under-16 Basketball Team, has experienced this firsthand. The Brent Panthers are currently ranked as the top under-16 team in the England National League Tables. Recently, Justin has been scouted as a potential candidate for a trip to the USA to vie for a full athletic scholarship to an American college. But how did it all begin for this young athlete?

“At first I was playing basketball for fitness,” Justin recalls. “My mum took me to a place near my house to play and, over time, my love of the game grew and I thought maybe I could find a career in it. I was 12 at the time. I eventually started playing games – I played with Barnet Bulldogs first, then moved on to London Elite.”

It was a fortuitous meeting with an old acquaintance of his uncle that propelled Justin to new heights. “At my second game for Elite, my uncle met his former basketball coach, who runs the Brent Panthers and invited me to play for them.” This invitation led to some soul-searching for Justin, who was anxious about making another move: “I couldn’t sleep. I thought, ‘Do I change teams again?’ I reasoned, ‘This man actually coached three of my uncles,’ so eventually I decided to go with this new team.”

Harrow student who dreams of playing basketball in the NBA scouted for potential scholarship in America Harrow Online

In 2023, Justin’s hard work paid off when he was selected for the London Regional Talent Development programme, ASPIRE, and placed on the pathway for recruitment to the England National Team. “Basically, it’s a programme where they pick the best young talent across England and train you to play all over the world in different international competitions.”

The prospect of competing in America holds significant promise for Justin. “In America the competition is very high,” he explains. “They pick talent from around the world to play there. You’ll be playing in front of scouts and coaches – people will be watching every step you take. There’s a big chance of being noticed and getting a scholarship.”

As for his ultimate goal, Justin’s ambitions are clear: “The dream is to play in the NBA and be the greatest ever!” He cites LeBron James as his inspiration. “LeBron James. In my opinion, he’s the best to ever play the game. I’ve tried to model how he plays. If you want to be the best, shouldn’t you train like the best?”

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