NBA Basketball School program underway in Australia

The first NBA Basketball School in Australia is up and running, with the program completing its opening session on Monday in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs.

Housed at Cranbrook School, the program is the 14th NBA Basketball School launched across the world, with the goal to improve the standard of basketball development at the grassroots level in Australia.

Nico Loureiro, who's worked with the NBA in both a coaching and operations capacity, was named the Technical Director of NBA Basketball School Australia, and was hands on during its first session on Monday evening.

On hand to watch and take part in the two training groups in Sydney on Monday were Carlos Barroca, NBA Asia's Associate Vice President of Basketball Operations; and Jim Wong, NBA Asia's Associate Vice President of Marketing Partnerships.

The program is for players aged 6-18 across skillsets of all levels, with a mixture of local and international coaches utilised. The program's plan is to run over the course of each school term, with three-to-four sessions a week, and five-day camps over the holiday period.

"The goal will be different for every person we get," Loureiro told ESPN.

"We'll work with every athlete in a different way. Some of them might make it to a high level, and some may not. But, we want to provide a great basketball experience so they fall in love with the game. We want them to leave our program and go and do better things with basketball as a player, or as a coach. We also want to help connect youth and teach them life skills, to improve society while promoting healthy habits and wellbeing, using the NBA brand that's so powerful to ultimately inspire them to continue being around the game.

"Our basketball program is open for anyone that wants to come learn about the game and become a better person, in a fun and safe environment. Our ultimate goal is to grow leaders in the community through the power of basketball."

Loureiro was part of the coaching staff at Canberra's NBA Global Academy, playing a role in the development of the likes of Josh Giddey and Dyson Daniels.

The curriculum was developed by the NBA's International Basketball Operations department, in consultation with current and former NBA coaches, players, and player development specialists.

Ben O'Neill, the Managing Director of Basketball Magic, whom the NBA partnered with to launch the NBA Basketball Schools in Australia, plans to expand the program across Sydney, and then around the country.

"Our goal is to ultimately grow participation levels in Australia, and get more kids playing," O'Neill told ESPN. "Help them get to the next stage of their basketball journey. That's the foundation. Having said that, it would be a really cool story if we could find that diamond, the next Josh Giddey come through our program and that pathway."

O'Neill said that, since the program was announced in early February, he'd received expressions of interest from schools and basketball associations from across the country about ways to be part of the initiative.

"We're gonna grow this across Australia over the years," O'Neill said.

"Right now, we're focused on getting the quality there at Cranbrook school. Getting that right with term one, then moving into holiday camps. At the right time, we'll expand across Sydney and expand across Australia after that."

NBA Basketball Schools have already been announced or launched in Argentina, Brazil, China, Dominican Republic, India, Italy, Kuwait, Lithuania, Mexico, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, and Uruguay, with more expected to open in the Asian region in the near future. New Basketball Schools in Japan, Indonesia, and Thailand are on the horizon, while Korea, Singapore, and the Philippines are also in the NBA's sights.

"Being part of the NBA means we're part of a global brand and global network, so we're on monthly calls with the technical directors from all around the world," O'Neill said.

"We exchange best practices with them. Obviously each country and each market is different in how they operate things, and I have a good idea of how we want to operate in Australia, but Nico and I are in touch with the other technical directors and programs, bouncing ideas back and forth. Some schools have expressed interest in coming to Australia, so there's just a lot of opportunities for players and coaches from each basketball school to have experiences in other countries."