April 17, 2024

NBA champion Kenny Smith appointed NBL Next Stars ambassador

Kenny Smith, a two-time NBA champion and outstanding broadcaster, has been appointed head of Next Stars’ participant initiatives in North America for the National Basketball League‘s Next Stars program, the league introduced.

The appointment of Smith will see him actively recruit, develop and mentor new Next Stars gamers, with the NBL hoping his standing and community inside the American basketball ecosystem will bolster this system.

Smith, 59, may also turn out to be a component proprietor of an NBL enlargement crew, set to be introduced within the close to future.

“With my passion for growing the game of basketball globally, I’m incredibly excited to be an ambassador of the NBL’s Next Stars program and to be fully invested in the growth of the NBL as a future owner of a new expansion team,” Smith stated.

“Legitimate pathways to the NBA are evolving, and the NBL has a proven track record of getting players drafted. The NBL identified a key role for me to mentor and support young talent and equip them with the tools to compete at a professional level with a view to making the leap into the NBA.”

The Next Stars program was created forward of the 2018-19 NBL season, with the goal of offering a platform for draft-eligible expertise to compete in forward of the NBA draft. Eight gamers have been drafted out of this system, together with three within the lottery: LaMelo Ball, Josh Giddey, and Ousmane Dieng. Over the years, the initiative has additionally included draft-and-stash expertise.

Eight of the NBL’s 10 groups had a Next Stars participant as a part of a roster for the 2023-24 season, headlined by the Perth Wildcats’ Alexandre Sarr, who’s No. 2 on ESPN’s most recent 2024 NBA mock draft.

“We are extremely proud of our Next Stars program and what it has achieved but this is just the beginning,” Larry Kestelman, proprietor of the NBL, stated.

“The addition of ambassadors and future team owners of Kenny Smith’s caliber and reputation is truly exciting and shows how far we have come, but also indicates to the basketball world where we are headed.”

“There are currently 11 former NBL players in the NBA and we want to see that number increase significantly and we believe Kenny will help us expand the Next Stars program dramatically to achieve this. We are quickly becoming the most legitimate, and best pathway to the NBA.”

The program was initially launched as a substitute for the school basketball system, primarily concentrating on one-and-done expertise. The NBA responded by making a developmental basketball crew of its personal, NBA G-League Ignite, however that program will fold on the conclusion of the 2023-24 season, largely because of the rise of the NCAA’s title, picture, and likeness (NIL) coverage and switch portal.

The NIL coverage permits student-athletes to earn cash off their private model, making faculty basketball a considerably extra palatable choice for high-level expertise who’ve the capability to leverage their reputation. NIL nonetheless poses a hurdle for the NBL when recruiting prime expertise around the globe, however, with the dismantling of Ignite, the Next Stars program now has one fewer competitor.

“Well, now it’s extremely great because there’s no G League Ignite team,” Smith stated.

“So, this gives you an opportunity, under the mentorship that I can provide, and the guidance and understanding, of what it is to be a pro. I understand what the American athlete is doing from every level. I have one of the top AAU basketball teams for years. I do college basketball March Madness Final Four, and I’m the voice of the NBA. So, there’s no one that knows every aspect that they’re (players) trying to get in the world probably than me.

“This goes to be the pathway. This goes to be the pathway for the younger man who feels that his expertise are greater than faculty, but in addition desires to maintain his draft inventory and likewise discover ways to be a professional, earlier. We are going to point out you how one can have the accountability fall on you, immediately.

“Oh, it’s physical because you’re playing against not just 17-year-olds or 18-year-olds, you’re playing against men. But what that also allows you to understand is not only the physicality of the game, it’ll get you ready for your next step, which is the ultimate goal from going from the NBL to the NBA.”