The day before the 2018 NBA draft, 20 top prospects came together for a Jr. NBA basketball clinic and NBA Cares packing project at Basketball City in New York City.
Local youths from Basketball City and Bronxville Basketball League participated alongside a group of rising stars that included DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, Jaren Jackson, Michael Porter Jr. and Mohamed Bamba—all of whom were lottery picks in the NBA draft.
Said Donte DiVincenzo, the Villanova guard who was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks, “To me it’s bigger than basketball. We play basketball for our job but it’s bigger than that, we have to give back to the people that support us. I was just like these kids when I was younger.”
The draftees were split into two groups and took turns coaching kids through a series of basketball drills on one floor. On another floor, they joined an assembly line to pack bags and create cards with handwritten notes for Operation: Care and Comfort, an organization that sends care packages to service members stationed overseas.
The players were all smiles at the basketball drills clinic. The kids were thrilled to interact with some of their favorite players, who were clearly having a great time. Duke’s Wendell Carter showed off his post moves, while former Alabama standout Colin Sexton taught the kids ball handling and the best way to weave through a press.
There was an intense competition during the packing and card project that brought former rivals together for community service. Mikal Bridges tried to rally his table to produce more cards than Michael Porter Jr.’s table. ACC rivals Jerome Robinson, who went to Boston College, and Bagley III, who went to Duke, worked the assembly line with kids to the pack care packages.
These athletes, who seemed to genuinely value the opportunity to be there, showed the kids in attendance the importance of giving back. This is a unique group of caring individuals who will be making a difference both on and off the court.
Photograph by Dominique Oliveto