Jumping at chance to bounce sport back to Capital

AN American entrepreneur is on a mission to return fully-professional basketball to Edinburgh, and hopes to establish a Capital-based academy in the city to encourage youngsters to excel in the sport.

Donald Sampley, who is a basketball player himself, visited Scotland earlier this year, playing several games for Troon Tornadoes.

During his trip, the 38-year-old travelled to Edinburgh and decided it would be the perfect place for him to encourage greater participation in the sport.

He has been in talks with Basketball Scotland about boosting the game in the Capital, and hopes to use Meadowbank Stadium as a base for a totally home-grown team.

Mr Sampley, who is from St Louis, Missouri, said he had also held talks with Telford College to discuss the possibilities for a basketball academy.

He said: "Scotland needs another BBL (British Basketball League] team to grow the game and Edinburgh is the perfect location.

"I want to be in Scotland to help players become the best they can be. I want to set up a study abroad partnership, offering American kids the opportunity to study and train in Scotland.

"Scottish players will be trained alongside American players on a daily basis with a programme that focuses on individual basketball fundamentals, weight-training and nutrition, and at the end of the programme the players will be bigger, stronger, fitter and faster and more skilled."

He said the academy and the development of a top-flight team in the Capital would go hand in hand.

He said: "Seeing home-grown players will inspire youth players to work harder to become better themselves - so creating a British Basketball League team in Edinburgh that features highly skilled Scottish players is my ultimate goal."

Scotland's only current fully-professional team are the Glasgow Rocks - originally based at Meadowbank and known as the Edinburgh Rocks until they moved west in 2002. They are the only Scottish team to play in the BBL.

Mr Sampley said he had been particularly inspired by Troon coach Tom Campbell and Edinburgh Kings head coach Danny Costello during his visit. "I know that coaches such as Tom Campbell and Danny Costello have developed the game for the best part of 30 years or more and I'd like to be part of the next 30 years."

A spokesman for Basketball Scotland confirmed its CEO Kevin Pringle had held an initial meeting with Mr Sampley to discuss his proposals.

He added: "Basketball Scotland would welcome further discussion on what he could bring to enhancing the game locally and throughout Scotland."