A youngster hopes for a slam dunk in the NBA
Rynfield resident Connor Liebenberg is heading to Senegal to join the NBA Africa Academy.
He earned his ticket after impressing at the FIBA Africa Youth Camp in Kenya in September. After his impressive outing, he was selected to the five-man all-star team and was named camp’s top shooter.
At camp, the 2m-tall 16-year-old earned praise from his camp mates, who called him ‘the sharpshooter’ due to his sharpshooting skills.
“What made me stand out in Kenya was my ability to shoot. I am tall and in basketball there are not many great shooters. The goal was to perfect my shooting and be known as the big man who can shoot.
Standing 11ft tall, the St Dunstan’s College learner knows he’s entering terrifying territory. But he said he was ready for the challenge.
“I hope to stay at the academy for three years to grow and develop. My goal is to play professional basketball, but the main thing is to be able to take care of my family.
Connor dabbled in rugby, cricket and athletics, but in 2019 he realized his real power lay in hoop shooting.
“When I was playing athletics and rugby, there was so much competitiveness. In basketball, you just focus on yourself and improve your game to help the team improve.
“In rugby and in athletics, it was difficult to adapt to become better. I realized that if I could try basketball, I could focus better on a particular objective, and that made my life easier” , did he declare.
Connor’s father, Johan, said he was surprised at how quickly he adapted to the sport.
“In his last year of elementary school, he broke his collarbone and we thought he should try basketball. In 2019, he joined his school’s basketball team and he blossomed immediately.
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“He also joined Aelen Stars Basketball Academy where they won the winter league in 2019. They also participated in the Junior NBA program at St Stithians College where he was really impressive,” Johan said.
In 2020, when Covid-19 interrupted sporting activities, his family offered him private training sessions with Aelen Stars coach Michael Murerwa.
“In 2021, he dominated a lot of U16 games, and we and some coaches created a profile for him and that got a lot of attention. He then got the invitation to the FIBA camp.
“In December, Tshepo Tau of Ball In Motion told us that there was something in the works for Connor. We then received a call from NBA Africa COO Franck Traore stating that Connor had received a full scholarship. from NBA Africa,” added Johan.
Johan said the goal is to get him into the college basketball system in the United States, which is key to the NBA.
“He studies on an online platform called Apex Virtual Learning and the courses will grant him NCAA approval. If approved, he will be able to join any college in the United States. If he can get into a division one college, then that’s one step closer to the NBA.
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