U.S. Central girls and boys win inaugural Jr. NBA World Championship

ORLANDO, Fla. – The U.S. Central girls team and U.S. Central boys team won the inaugural Jr. NBA World Championship today at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.  The world championship games, televised on FOX, featured the Central girls defeating the Europe girls team 68-38, while the Central boys defeated the Africa & Middle East boys team 60-50.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, three-time NBA Champion and Jr. NBA World Championship Global Ambassador Dwyane Wade and four-time WNBA Champion Sheryl Swoopes presented the winning teams with trophies in a ceremony following the games.

The first-of-its kind global youth basketball tournament took place from Aug. 7-12 and featured 32 of the top 13- and 14-year-old boys and girls teams from around the world.

The Central girls team from Kansas City, Mo. advanced to the Jr. NBA World Championship after winning the Central Regional tournament earlier this summer. After losing their first game of the week against the Southeast girls in pool play, head coach Sam Johnson and the Central team responded with six consecutive wins to take home the world championship. S’mya Nichols, Tasia Johnson and Sania Copeland propelled the team’s offense throughout the week. Each averaged more than 10 points per game in the tournament and the trio scored a combined 45 points over Europe in the world championship matchup.

The Central boys team from Overland Park, Kan. also advanced to the Jr. NBA World Championship after winning the Central Regional tournament earlier this summer.  Head coach Allen Skeens led the Central boys to a perfect 7-0 record in Orlando, including bracket-play victories against the Northwest, South, and Southeast to advance to the world championship. Standout players Mark Mitchell and Taj Manning averaged 19.3 points and 16.6 points, respectively, throughout the tournament.  Mitchell and Manning combined for 35 points in the win over Africa & Middle East in the world championship match.

Prior to the championship games, seven-time NBA All-Star and 2018 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Grant Hill hosted an awards ceremony and was joined by Silver and other presenters including Wade, Swoopes, and former Orlando Magic players and current Magic Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw.  Four awards representing the Jr. NBA’s four core values – Determination, Respect, Teamwork and Community – were each presented to the boy and girl players who best represented the characteristics throughout the tournament.  The winners were:

Determination Award

Girls: Sania Copeland, Central; Boys: Marouf Moumine, Africa & Middle East

Recognizes the players who consistently dedicated the time, energy and work ethic needed to excel both on and off the court.  These winners were supportive of teammates, demonstrated a willingness to learn, exhibited strong leadership skills and always hustled on the court.

Respect Award

Girls: Kiki Rice, Mid-Atlantic; Boys: Jarace Walker, Mid-Atlantic

Recognizes the players who respected all teammates, coaches, opponents, and officials.  These players were considerate, had a positive attitude, and demonstrated great sportsmanship.

Teamwork Award

Girls: Juste Veronika Jocyte, Europe ; Boys: Mark Mitchell, Central

Recognizes the players that exhibited strong communication and cooperation skills both on and off the court.  These players understood how to listen, lead and work well with others.

Community Award

Girls: Sunishka Kartik, India; Boys: Harrison Stones, Asia Pacific

Recognizes the players who are committed to giving back to those in need.  These players understood the impact of the game beyond the court, and embraced the opportunity to make a difference in the community.

The Jr. NBA World Championship brought together the top 32 boys and girls teams (16 U.S. and 16 international) that advanced from regional competitions earlier this year.  The 16 international teams (eight boys and eight girls) represented Africa & Middle East, Asia Pacific, Canada, China, Europe, India, Mexico and South America.  The 16 U.S. teams (eights boys and eight girls) represented eight regions across the country, Central, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Northeast, Northwest, South, Southeast and West.

During the weeklong event, all 32 teams participated in activities designed to reinforce the Jr. NBA’s core values and provide the players with development opportunities and memorable experiences off the court. The activities included life skills sessions, Disney park visits, a community service project, and meetings with current and former NBA and WNBA players and coaches.

For more information about the Jr. NBA World Championship and to learn more about how to register for next year’s event, please visit jrnba.com/worldchampionship. 

About the Jr. NBA
The Jr. NBA presented by Under Armour is the league’s youth basketball participation program that provides a fun environment for kids to learn the fundamentals and values of the game.  The Jr. NBA is focused on helping grow and improve the youth basketball experience for players, coaches and parents, and offers a free curriculum covering all levels of the game that includes 48 practice plans and more than 250 instructional videos featuring NBA and WNBA players.  The Jr. NBA World Championship, a first-of-its kind global youth basketball tournament for the top 13- to 14-year-old boys and girls teams from around the world, will take place in August 2018.

In partnership with USA Basketball, the NBA developed two sets of youth basketball guidelines which promote player health and wellness and age-appropriate rules and standards.  Through a network of affiliated youth basketball organizations and programs such as the Jr. NBA Skills Challenge presented by Verizon and 3v3 Leagues presented by Shock Doctor, the Jr. NBA program has reached more than five million youth ages 6-14 in the U.S. and Canada since launching its expanded efforts in October 2015.  The Jr. NBA partnership network is comprised of youth basketball programs of all NBA, WNBA and NBA G League teams as well as elementary and middle schools, military bases and longstanding community partners.  For more information and to register for the Jr. NBA, visit www.JrNBA.com or download the Jr. NBA app.