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Paradise Jam B-Ball Clinic Fun for All - Nov 13, 2012

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By Bill Kossler November 12, 2012

Bringing a little bit of the annual Paradise Jam to St. Croix, a couple of dozen boys and girls, age 8 to 18, ran drills and got technique tips from certified coaches at a free basketball clinic Friday at St. Croix Central High.

Nels Hawkinson, a coach certified by the International Basketball Federation, and fellow coach Fred Williams run the 20 or so young men and women in drills on stance, turning in place with traveling, shooting and other fundamentals.

"Keep that elbow in and use the other arm to protect yourself!" Hawkinson said, leading the kids, some as young as 8, in dribbling drills. "If you can dribble well, there is a place for you. Every team needs somebody that can handle the ball really well," he said.

While the young would-be ballers were mostly boys, quite a few young women came out for some tips and practice too.

"I brought my twin nieces, Anna and Marie, my daughter, Shardae (Magras), and a friend, David Ascension," said Raquel Meade. The girls seemed to be really enjoying it, Meade said.

Her 13-year-old daughter, who plays for the John H. Woodson Jr. High basketball team, came to last year's clinic too, Meade said.

The kids at the clinic also received T-shirts, backpacks, water bottles and other prizes, including one X-Box video game platform for one lucky athlete, thanks to the Department of Tourism, which helps sponsor the tournament.

Zavion Langrin, 8, won that video game: NBA2K13 with Jay-Z, for doing the best on one of the drills.

"It's a really nice game, said his mother, Rabia Hendricks. It was already on his Christmas gift list, and these games are expensive, so that was wonderful for him."

He's really a soccer guy, but this summer he's really taken a keen interest in basketball," she said. He really loves the game.

The tournament is on St. Thomas because it has the only suitable facility in the territory, but Paradise Jam is meant for the entire territory, so they come over to run clinics and work with kids on St. Croix, said Williams, a former college ballplayer and coach who works with Hawkinson on the Paradise Jam tournament.

"It's a fun time. No one will become an NBA star today, but kids can come out and have some fun and learn some skills with the drills," he said.

The U.S. Virgin Islands has been the home of the Paradise Jam event since its inception in 2000, offering mens and womens college basketball teams a chance for excellent early season competition in an exotic island setting. The Paradise Jam mens and womens tournaments take place Nov. 18-21 and Nov. 24-26 respectively at the University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center on St. Thomas.

The Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation coordinated with the Paradise Jam organization and Department of Tourism to put on Monday's clinic.

For more information about the tournament, visit

Livestreaming will be available at or on Facebook at

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