JOHANNESBURG (Basketball without Borders) - The 13th Basketball without Borders (BWB) Africa camp proved to be a huge hit after it dovetailed beautifully into the first ever NBA Africa game.
The four-day camp witnessed the top 59 young 1998-born players from the continent taking a special opportunity to learn directly from NBA players, legends and coaches and compete against their peers.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Sport in South Africa welcomed the players, led by Team World captain and eight-time NBA All-Star Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers and Team Africa captain and two-time NBA All-Star Luol Deng of the Miami Heat.
Campers also learned from Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, Nicolas Batum of the Charlotte Hornets, 2015 NBA champion Festus Ezeli of the Golden State Warriors and Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder - among others.
The 2014-15 NBA Coach of the Year, Mike Budenholzer of the Atlanta Hawks, was also present as were the likes of Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs and Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics.
Attendees went through evaluation scrimmages in the early stages and that left Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards excited.
It was definitely fun to be able to coach and teach these kids. - Beal
"I love how they are so competitive and willing to learn. It just shows how good of an impact basketball really has on kids."
After a Junior NBA clinic for local children, players and coaches visited the Apartheid Museum which documents South Africa's struggle against a racist regime and the heroes who fought against it.
"It was breathtaking," reflected Evan Turner of the Celtics.
"To see what South Africa went through just to get freedom and equality was amazing."
The second day swung into action with Life Skills session featuring Team Africa's Nazr Mohammed and Team World's Nikola Vucevic, with the focus was on leadership.
Meanwhile the BWB Girls Camp continued with fundamental skill development stations facilitated by WNBA legends Ebony Hoffman, Clarisse Machanguana and Ruth Riley.
Players and coaches then headed to the newly built Boys & Girls Club Protea Glen Clubhouse to dedicate a new outdoor basketball court, with the support of Nike and the NBPA Foundation. NBA Legends Hakeem Olajuwon and Muggsy Bogues as well as various players also facilitated a basketball clinic on the court for 60 youth members of the club.
The penultimate day started with a 'Hoops 4 Hope' life skills session from NBA Legends Dikembe Mutombo and Bogues. The former spoke with the girls about empowering women in Africa before they took part in their three-point competition and All-Star Game.
There was a visit to SOS Children's Village Ennerdale, which helps orphaned and abandoned children. NBA Cares and the NBPA Foundation have undertaken their largest commitment to the village to date, working on a range of projects from the refurbishment of the local library, to the construction of a new basketball court.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts, Deng, Paul and Pau Gasol all addressed the campers and spoke about how much the children's enthusiasm for life inspired them. The players spent time walking around the village with the kids, playing soccer, climbing on a jungle gym and touring the library.
It was a powerful event that touched the hearts of everyone there. - Faried
"I couldn't do nothing but smile all day and be happy, because these kids make you feel happy about life," Kenneth Faried of the Denver Nuggets declared.
"I'm just so blessed to have these kids show me a side of me that I never knew existed.
The last day featured the boys' All-Star Game and a three-point competition at Ellis Park Arena, prior to watching the historic maiden NBA Africa Game.
Finally, the 2015 edition of the camp proved to be the biggest yet and is expected to leave a lasting legacy on the continent.