SMILLIE WORKING ON SHORT, LONG TERM

Glasgow Rocks owner Duncan Smillie insists funds will be available to new head coach Darryl Wood to challenge for the British Basketball League title next term.

It comes after the Scottish side launching a new Academy which he hopes will provide a conveyor belt of homegrown talent.

The BBL outfit are to follow the lead of big European clubs in setting up their own development programme to nurture young Scottish prospects rather than watching them drift overseas.

The scheme, established in conjunction with Glasgow Kelvin College, will be headed up by Great Britain forward Gareth Murray who will continue to play for the Rocks while looking after up to 25 hopefuls signing up in the autumn.

But while it may pay long-term dividends if it uncovers the next LeBron James, Smillie maintains the primarily goal is to pick up prizes after swallowing the bitter pill of ending this season empty-handed.

“We finished top four but we didn’t win anything which is disappointing. But we want to have the same budget in order to recruit a competitive team to put on the court.

“We’ll have a target: it’s silverware. That’s what we want and I don’t think we’re shooting for the moon. It’s realistic and that’s where we’re setting the bar.”

Murray, who has already dipped his toe in the coaching waters with a spell in charge of Scotland’s Under-16s, will step down as the Rocks assistant boss to focus on the Academy but he believes there is plenty of raw talent on tap close to home.

The Arbroath-born forward said: “There are players out there with the dedication and ability required to get to the next level.

“In Scotland, the next part is getting the opportunity to train every day against better players and this is what we’re hoping for. And you never know who we might come through.”

Smillie added: “Young people getting an education running parallel with a first class basketball programme gives a pathway to pro-basketball in the UK, Europe or even the US college system. The bar will be high for students as it should be but this opportunity could be life-changing for the young men involved.

“We hope the Academy will eventually be extended to include a programme for female players too.

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