The last time a Saint Lucia national team was entered in any kind of senior men’s competition was over five years ago, in 2010. It was the last time the Windward Islands men’s tournament was held, and Saint Lucia finished dead last.
The president of the Saint Lucia Basketball Federation, Leslie Collymore, has said that one of his priorities in the coming months is the revival of the national team programme. He hasn’t said what competition he intends to enter, if any, but it’s worth exploring what the national team might look like in any case.
Over the years, basketballers like Marcellus ‘Bax’ Stiede, Ewan Auguste, Gabriel Inglis and Aloysius Henry have played professionally, as have a couple of women (but that’s for another story). But they have all long since hung up their sneakers. So who makes Team Saint Lucia 2016?
The team will almost certainly be built around the likes of Andre Louison and Ron Dumurville, both of whom play with Courts Jets. Although Ron nominally plays at small forward, he is likely to have to switch to the two-guard position in any serious international competition. Ron led the KFC National League in assists and was the Most Valuable Player this year, whilst Andre had the most points and steals.
Keegan Preville and Durocher Antoine may be able to survive on the wing. Another member of perennial champions, Jets, he was MVP of the National League finals. The Micoud Hustlerz frontcourt pair of Ulric Joseph and Ricardo Charles would compete with the likes of Marcian Calderon, whilst Shamoir Jn Baptiste, Jerry Charles and Nigel Francis might also be in contention.
Amongst the youngsters, teenager Jean-Michel Eloise has proven to be a useful point guard, and he may be joining VBCC soon. Division 1 champions BBC also have a solid point guard in Rahim Auguste. Jadson Montoute and Parkel Gumbs from Combined Schools are also two big men on the rise and may just push themselves through.
But for the national team to thrive, the SLBF would almost certainly have to extend its search for players into the diaspora. And it just so happens that at least six players out there who could become eligible to suit up for Saint Lucia were the national side to get into action next summer.
The most prominent name would be Damien Inglis. A 6’8″ 240-pound small forward, Damien was born in French Cayenne, and has played youth basketball for France. Just 20 years old, he plays with the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA, having missed the entire 2014-15 season through injury.
Damien is eligible for Saint Lucia through his mother, who is from Grande Riviere, Gros Islet. International basketball rules appear to be similar to those for football; namely, if you haven’t represented anyone yet at senior level, you can represent anyone. That makes the uber-athletic Inglis available.
The other wing would have to be Terance Mann, who stands 6’6″ and weighs in at 204 pounds. Both of his parents were born and raised in Saint Lucia, though the Florida State University freshman guard was born in the United States. Just turned 19 in mid-October, his mother (Daynia La Force) is also a coach.
According to the scouting reports, Terance is “a very good ball handler for his size, excellent passer, and has a high basketball IQ. He’s a good athlete who can defend multiple backcourt positions and is an outstanding rebounder in the backcourt…. Mann’s versatility allows him the flexibility to blend in to just about any type of lineup.”
Now, size notwithstanding, Terance can and has played point guard on the high school summer circuit. So he could conceivably be the primary ball handler for a group which presently has no high-level lead guards in high school, college or at the professional level.
But then again, there is Akeem Pierre. Aged 24, he has played for University of British Columbia and Thompson Rivers University, after coming from RC Palmer High School in Richmond, British Columbia. After graduating in 2011, the 5’11” 190-pound guard has been on the move. Among other things, he started a basketball academy in Colombia, of all places.
More recently, though, ‘Keemo’ has settled in Vancouver, where he was a scoring, passing standout in the Vancouver Metro League this past summer. Keemo has always played above the rim, and he’s both a deadeye shooter and a defensive nuisance who could complement Inglis and Mann well.
Up front is an interesting trio.
Born in Castries before moving to Canada as a toddler with his mother (Mary MacVane) Chris Boucher has fantastic range on his jump shot, and is capable of playing at small forward. But at 6’10” and 205 pounds, the 22-year-old from Montreal, Quebec, Canada is likelier to end up becoming a modern stretch four.
Chris was junior college player of the year in 2014-15; he is now at University of Oregon. He averaged 22.5 points – shooting 44.4% from three – and 11.8 rebounds per game at Northwest College in Wyoming, with 18 double-doubles and three triple-doubles, including 32 points, 12 rebounds and 11 blocks in one game.
Also an option at power forward is 21-year-old Brandon University (Canada) player John Paul. Like Chris, he was born in Saint Lucia, but he was also raised here, attending George Charles Secondary before heading off to high school in Alabama, whereafter he headed to Tyler Junior College in Texas.
Initially held up by visa issues, the 6’11” 260-pound post player follows in the footsteps of fellow Saint Lucian Dany Charlery as a BU Bobcat. He has come off the bench in early action for coach Gil Cheung, but has more than lived up to his reputation as a rebounder and rim protector in limited minutes.
A third outstanding transfer, set to make a name for himself this season, is Saint Lucia-born Legend Robertin. Standing an imposing seven feet tall, and weighing in at 250 pounds, Legend is a true centre. He grew up in Barking, Essex, near London, England and went to Chipola College in Florida.
Now, Legend is starting a new life at Clemson University. Just 21 years old, he is a major defensive presence with three years of eligibility with the Tigers. He has played basketball for just five years, but his physical tools and preventive mindset make him a legitimate anchor. Like Inglis, he has played internationally at youth level.
Legend and Damien may be long shots to play for Saint Lucia. Both are eligible and would find it far easier to make a Saint Lucia team than either England or France’s men’s team. Chris could one day be in consideration for Canada, but with 12 NBA players and a host of pros to choose from, he’s a long shot at best.
Whereas the SLBF should do due diligence and sound out all three players (and their families!) it would be a far more straightforward proposition to entice Terance, John and Akeem onto the national squad, and all three should be able to fit in seamlessly – as would any of the six.
Other possibilities include former pro Aloysius Henry, now a collegiate assistant coach in North Carolina, and swingman Dany Charlery, who is also coaching in Canada. Either could come in player-coach, or the SLBF could go for Terance’s mother, Daynia, to lead the team.
Once the Federation takes the time to build relationships with the players, their parents and coaches, the payoff could be huge.