By Anyang Garang | Journey so far; decisions, constant improvement and rewards
Preface by Janx
PICTURED: Anyang back home in Gawler on a recent visit.
As Director of Coaching Central Districts Lions, I can still remember about 8 or so years ago when through some funding through the church, local council and other community organisations a team of players from the African immigrant community was joining our club. I had the opportunity to coach this team and took it up. Tony Moore, who now runs Hoops4Life (click here for info on this great program), a coach involved with the club at the time, had set up these arrangements and it was really the first time in our state those new Aussies from the Sudanese and African community really got involved at high level competition en-masse in South Australia. I had the opportunity to get to know many of these guys and to this day love catching up with them, be it Machar Machar (Midland College, a Junior College), Kiir Deng (University Louisiana Monroe), Mabior Garang were just some of the guys that played in this exciting run and gun team. The thing I loved about coaching these guys was how much they loved the game, what it meant to them and how badly they wanted to learn. Since that time I’ve been fortunate to work with many from this community be it Lat Mayen (2017 TCU Commit), Biar Garang (US Prep School), Jimma Dau (Central Districts Lions Premier League) and of course Anyang Garang. Each of these lads has been great to work with and get to know.
I have since found out that many of these athletes have come through the Adelaide Warriors basketball club. A club that is run, and consists mostly of players from the South Sudanese immigrant community. Lat’s brother Aciek Mayen actually ran the club for quite a few years and did an incredible job with helpers like Scott Freer and Rashad Tucker along the way. The Warriors take part in 2 main tournaments each year. One is in July and another in December and they train and play together each week and compete in competitions around town. Jye Watson blogged on "Sudanese Basketball, Doin' it for Love" in August 2016.
Here is Anyang playing for the Adelaide Warriors at the South Sudanese National Basketball Association Classic in 2017:
VIDEO: SSNBA Classic highlights for Anyang Garang.
I feel privileged to have gotten to know Anyang over the past 3 years and have asked Anyang to do a Q & A for www.highperformancehoopsnetwork.com
One of the most awesome aspects of working with these athletes is seeing their humble beginnings when they start the process with our state program and seeing how quickly their lives can change in a short space of time, if they have the right qualities.
Anyang played in our U18 2017 SA Metro team and since that time has become a featured athlete at www.highperformancehoopsnetwork.com. Like all of our featured athletes we tend to look deep into the athlete’s work ethic and high character values before offering our support in this way. Anyang fits the bill in every way. A very humble and astute personality he has a strong awareness of the areas of his game he needs to improve and the work to do to improve in those areas. Despite the recent success and opportunities he has had, from humble beginnings, he is always humble and focussed on personal growth in the sport on and off the floor. In my conversations with Anyang he always prefers to talk about what he needs to improve at, and how much he wants to work at it, rather than how good he actually is and what his achievements have been so far.
Like other elite kids his age, he has been confronted with a barrage of “opportunities” from those agents/runner/scout/aau types of people, who are often well meaning, but sometimes misguided, and through this process Anyang is always astute. He makes his own decisions but willing to ask for help from others to discover information and insights on the right questions to ask before he makes his decisions. With a range options he chose to commit to the first ever NBA Global Academy class out of Basketball Australia’s Center of Excellence at the Australian Institute of Sport. Talking to him he has loved it and looking at his recent achievements, in attending the NBA All Star weekend for Basketball without Borders and more recently the Next Generation Sunday at the NCAA Final 4 he has not looked back.
In developing this article I had the opportunity talk to Adam Caporn, who is the Head Coach at Basketball Australia's Centre of Excellence about Anyang's progress. Caporn stating the following on Anyang's values, often what we see as a key predictor of emerging talent;
"Anyang is an impressive young man. Responsible and determined he will maximise all opportunities that come his way."
Since arriving at the NBA Global Academy Anyang has continued to develop at a rapid rate:
"Anyang has an elite work ethic and has thrown everything he possibly can at the weight room and his nutrition. He needs to keep getting stronger but with his work ethic and attitude this will happen. On the floor he has really improved his shooting and his understanding of team defensive concepts. With his length and athleticism, his shooting and help defence will make him a very valuable commodity."
Also taking a forward looking view on Anyang, Caporn states the following about areas Anyang needs to develop:
"Along with continuing his shooting and team defence, Anyang will be focussing on handling and defending the ball. Improving his ball handling will enable him to use his athleticism more and become a force in transition. Defensively he has the ability to become a very disruptive defender and has a good nose for the ball. I would like to see him take on the challenge of impacting the game with his defence, particularly getting up the floor and in the lanes. This will be a progression from his already improved understanding of team concepts and some encouragement to be on the attack more defensively."
Anyang is a phenomenal man; driven, astute, smart and talented. We can’t wait to see what he does in coming years as he chases his dreams which will inevitably take him to play college basketball in the United States, and hopefully if all goes well, the NBA beyond that.
Over to Anyang
VIDEO: Anyang's recent workout tape from January 2018.
Are there any Aussies whom you hope to follow in their footsteps?
I hope to follow the footsteps of fellow Aussies from Adelaide Isaac White (Stanford Point Guard) and Lat Mayen (TCU Wing) and attend a division 1 college in the United States.
PICTURED: Jacob Rigoni (2017 Quinnipiac Freshman), Lat Mayen (2018 TCU RS Freshman), Isaac White (2017 Stanford Freshman)
Do you keep in touch with them?
Every now and then I talk to Lat, however Isaac not as much
How did playing for the SA State team assist you in your journey?
Playing under 18s nationals (in April 2017) was really my first time playing high level basketball outside South Australia.
It really assisted my journey as it was an eye-opening experience to play against the best teams in Australia in my age group at the time.
VIDEO: Anyang's 2017 U18 National Championships highlights
How long have you been at the NBA Global Academy?
I have been at the NBA Global Academy Since July 2017 when it officially opened.
How were you selected for this program?
I was selected for this program by attending the Talent Identification Camp and subsequent to that Australian Development camp in 2017. I was identified for these camps through the Basketball SA state program.
PICTURED: NBA Global Academy opening. Nico LOUREIRO, Chikara Tanaka, Jonathan Tchamwa, Ashaay Verma, Francisco Caffaro, Wani Swaka, Alex Ducus, Tamuri Wigness, Head coach Tom BIALASZEWSKI
What does a typical day and week consist of?
The typical day at the AIS would consist of a strength and conditioning session in the morning, depending on whether you have school or not an individual workout, and team training after school. The typical week would consist of 5 team training sessions, 4 strength and conditioning sessions, an individual session and a SEABL game.
What areas of your game have you developed mostly there?
Since arriving at the Academy I have really developed my shot by changing my form. Also ball handling ,playing more of a guard role and increased my knowledge of the game to improve my decision making in situations under duress.
What do you get at the NBA Global Academy that you might not get at home regarding player development on and off the court?
In terms of player development, the NBA global academy offers world class training facilities and environment. This means more individual skill development in order become a more skilled player. Off court recovery services, gym and nutrition access to become stronger and get your body right to become a better player.
BASKETBALL WITHOUT BORDERS (February 14 to 18)
When did you go to basketball without borders?
I went to basketball without boarders from February 14th to 18th during the NBA All-Star weekend.
PICTURED: Jazmin Shelley, Anyang, Alex Ducus Kody Stattmann, Josh Geen, Kobe King Hawea at NBA Basketball Without Borders in Los Angeles.
Describe the event day to day?
The day to day schedule we would have was breakfast at 7am and then we would head to the Lakers training facility and have a 3-hour practice including short 15-minute games. After that we went back to the Hotel, had lunch and later in the afternoon we went to the Staples Centre and watched the events of the all-star NBA weekend
Pictured: It is clear to anyone that Anyang has the physical tools to play at the highest levels. What many can’t see easily is his inherent character traits, maturity beyond his years, astuteness and drive that will see him reach these levels.
Which NBA players did you work with?
We had the chance to work with Al Horford from the Boston Celtics, Sam Dekker from the LA Lakers, Goran Dragic from the Miami Heat , Domantas Sabonis from the Indiana Pacers and Timofey Mozgov from the Brooklyn Nets.
Any key things they taught you can use into the future?
From Timofey Mozgov (Janx: Mogzof being from remote, rural Russia) I leant that it takes a lot of hard work to become an NBA player, and especially where he’s from, not many people made it.
Pictured: Mozgoff, like Anyang, comes from a city (Lenningrad) that has not produced an abundance of NBA talent, Joe Ingles being Adelaide’s sole, current NBA player.
What was it like heading to the US for your first time?
It was exciting because I didn’t know what to expect but I had some idea of what it would be like
In Los Angeles we went to the Griffith Observatory it was located next to the Hollywood hills from there we had an amazing view and were able to see all of Los Angeles.
Pictured: Anyang chilling in the picturesque Hollywood Hills on his trip for NBA BWB. Basketball giving him experiences few are allowed.
NCAA NEXT GENERATION SUNDAY (March 30 - April 2)
Who did you play at next generation Sunday?
At the first NCAA generation Sunday we played against 2 USA select teams which had the top players in America from the 2019 class. We also played against the other NBA academies around the world from China, Africa and Latin America
Pictured: At the NCAA’s Next Generation Sunday event at the Final 4. Anyang with NBA Global Academy Coaching Staff NICO LOUREIRO and Robbie McKinlay and team mates.
Who were the main guys you played?
We played against Scottie Lewis, Jalen Lecque, Tyrese Maxey, Bryan Antoine and Cole Anthony all potential NBA prospects
Pictured: Cole Anthony. Duke, Kansas and Louisville with St Marys commit and www.highperformancehoopsnetwork.com featured athlete #13 Alex Mudronja in view.
Pictured: Scotty Lewis holds offers from Duke, Florida and Kansas.
What was the level like of the games?
The game intensity was high and fast especially against USA who ran a full court press
How is it playing with fellow South Australia Metro representative Alex Mudronja (6’5’’ Point Guard, 2017 St Mary's Commit) at this event?
Playing with Alex was great as he brought great leadership to the team and controlled the game as a point guard in time we needed him to as well making team better through his knowledge and experience of the game.
Video: Mudronja highlights from U20 Australian National Championships
What NCAA games did you see?
We watched the final four semi-final games Loyola Chicago vs Michigan and Kansas vs Villanova.
PICTURED: At the NCAA Final 4 event, one of the biggest basketball events on the planet.
What did you learn from this event?
From this event I learnt the importance of having between balance between basketball and our lives off the court to become a more successful and complete person, I also learnt the different style of basketball the USA play compared to Australia.
PICTURED: Anyang getting ready to play for the Asia Pacfiic NBA Global Academy team
What level of college are you hoping to reach?
I am hoping to earn a scholarship to a division 1 school
What is long term goal?
My long-term goal is to play professional basketball in the NBA
What do you think you need to do to get there?
I would need to work extremely hard and improve as a basketball player, gain weight off to develop an NBA body type, and position myself in the right program that will help me get there.
Thanks for this Anyang. The whole of South Australian basketball is behind you and supporting you.