Luol Deng hopeful more British players will compete at the highest level

British basketball star Luol Deng has said that the NBA London Game has helped to grow basketball in the UK and the idea of having the NBA All-Star Game in London would be “amazing”. The NBA London Game 2018 will see the Boston Celtics take on the Philadelphia 76ers on the January. 11.

The LA Laker and two time NBA All-Star was born in Sudan before moving to south London at a young age, so the UK is a place close to star’s heart. Deng talked of the importance of bringing the NBA over to the UK for the London Game, saying: “I think it’s a smart thing for the NBA to do, but it’s also good for the game in the UK.”

When asked about hosting the NBA All-Star Game in the UK, Deng said: “I think that would be amazing, I think actually that would be very smart but once you do that you’ve got to start moving it to other places as well. But the NBA is doing a good job expanding the game so if the All-Star is here that would actually be unbelievable.”

Deng was in London to host the annual Deng Top 50 Basketball Camp which is a basketball skills camp run by the Luol Deng Foundation and helps boys 19 years of age and under hone their basketball talents. The campers undergo a series of individual drills, combine testing, classroom analysis, strength and conditioning training and competitive games, putting their abilities to the test in a bid to be ranked the UK’s #1 known as #DENGTOP50.

The 32-year-old spoke of the ambitions of the Deng Top 50 Basketball Camp: “The plan is always focusing on the kids and what’s the best way to get these kids to improve but also to give them the chance to pursue their dreams.”

The two-time NBA All-Star also believes that UK fans will see more British players competing in the NBA in the years to come: “I think that the number of British players that we get into college now is just increasing and that only gives an opportunity for more players to have an opportunity to play in the NBA. Definitely what we’re doing at the camp is working from what we see with kids in college and kids playing professionally in Europe.”

Reflecting on the state of grassroots basketball, after a golden summer for Great Britain’s youth teams, the decorated international noted: “I think, for me, I focus on my camp. I come back every year, I pick the best kids and try to set a limit to what they’ve got to do at the end of the year, and try improving and we teach them here everything that we can. What I can say is that the talent is up and down, every year we have is different where kids can be really good or kids can be okay but that always depends on where the kids are playing. And for me, my focus is really setting boundaries for these kids to really push themselves and come to this camp, not only in the best shape but actually two or three months before this camp they’re actually working out in the back of their mind that they want to be the best kid in this camp.”

Luol Deng was speaking at the annual Deng Top 50 Basketball Camp, in collaboration with the Luol Deng Foundation, a non-profit organisation that uses basketball as a tool to give hope to those in Africa, the U.S. and the UK. To find out more go to http://dengcamp.com/

Source: Pitch London
Image: NBAE/Getty