For the third straight year, a group from the Jordan Brand Classic is travelling Internationally -- this time to Istanbul, Turkey -- for a two-day training camp with 40 of the top prospects in Europe from March 3-8. Ten players will be selected as the Most Valuable Players from the camp and they will travel to the United States in April, along with six players from other regions of the world to compete in the third annual International Game as part of the Jordan Brand Classic on Saturday, April 17th at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Follow along with our blog and daily photo gallery from staff member Kevin Foley.
March 7th (3:00 am EST / 10:00 am Turkish time)
Day two of camp started on a quiet note. I was one of the first people to breakfast in the morning, well ahead of any of the exhausted players. I was also surpirsed to see pancakes! As much as I love European breakfasts with meat, cheese, bread, yogurt, eggs and fruit ... I absolutely love pancakes. I could feel my energy coming back. The sun was shining on the ride over, but it is still bitter cold outside. We got to the gym at 8:30 am. The session started with a two-ball dribbling workshop from Ganon Baker and you could see life coming back into the players. The competitive nature was there. Chris Thomas finished up the warm-up hour by stretching the guys and showing a few more drills for them to improve their flexibility. The afternoon should be exciting -- we have our defensive session, 5-on-5 tournament and all-star selections. Stay tuned!
March 6th (7:00 am EST / 2:00 pm Turkish time)
Back in the gym after an incredible lunch at a restaurant near the bay. We had a two-hour break and it was great to get out and see the city with the sunshine. I had grilled chicken and couscous, followed by a traditional dessert called a lakum that tasted like a marshmallow-coated jelly bean. It was the energy lift that I needed. The ride back and forth was beautiful. The scenery - the water, hillsides, bridges and huge ocean tankers -- were all incredible to see.
Back to basketball, Miles Simon - who is the former Most Outstanding Player of the 1997 NCAA Final Four for Arizona -- led an incredible defensive session with our players. The period was highlighted by a drill where the players had to guard an offensive player, take a charge and then dive across the floor for a loose ball. Many of the kids were not very excited to hit the floor, but since we are getting down to the wire on the all-star selections, you can see the intensity in the gym. I will be back after the all-star game and MVP announcement in a few hours.
March 6th (12:00 pm EST / 7:00 pm Turkish time)
What an exciting end to our Jordan Brand Classic tour! After an excting team tournament in the afternoon, the 20 all-stars were announced. Without a doubt, it is a difficult decision to select only half of the players for the all-star game, but we also feel that more than just the 10 MVPs of the camp deserve to be recognized. The game itself was pretty fun to watch. The players were fired up from our Turkish PA announcer who gave the Turkish players an extra "From TUUURKEEY." It was also fun to watch as the 10 Most Valuable players were announced -- what a great opportunity for a 16-year-old to represent his country in New York City at this April's Jordan Brand Classic International Game. Congratulations to everyone involved.
At the end of the day, we went out to dinner at a seafood restaurant with all of the NIKE country managers. It was a real to talk with so many people are in the same business, but from a totally different perspective. It has been a long day, so I am off to bed. I have an early flight tomorrow, but I will send along my final thoughts on the trip.