The NBA has done everything in its power to make the game of basketball more accessible over the last few years. Two of the major ways this has happened have been through its attempts to bring the game abroad and through various youth initiatives that try to get children playing hoops from a young age.
In the summer of 2018, those two things will intersect when the league puts on the inaugural Jr. NBA World Championship. Held from Aug. 7-12 in Orlando, the event will bring 32 of the top teams from 14U around the world together to participate in a basketball tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
The tournament will feature 16 boys teams and 16 girls teams. Half of the teams in each field will be from the United States, while the other half will hail from around the world. The eight American squads come from one of eight regions: Central, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Northeast, Northwest, South, Southeast, and West. The international teams, meanwhile, are slated to represent the Africa and Middle East, Asia Pacific, Canada, China, Europe, India, Mexico, and South America.
Upon making it to Orlando, the teams will play a round-robin tournament before being placed into a single-elimination bracket to determine the champion. As the Washington Post described it, the event is similar to basketball’s version of the Little League World Series.
“The Jr. NBA World Championship represents another significant step in our effort to promote youth basketball globally,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a press release. “And in addition to high-level competition on the court, participants will learn from NBA and WNBA veterans and coaches the values of the game and the most appropriate training techniques.”
And to give the tournament some added star power, two of the biggest basketball players on earth, Dwyane Wade and Candace Parker, will serve as lead global ambassadors. Both Wade and Parker praised the event in a release, with the Cleveland Cavaliers’ guard saying he’s excited to “improve the game at the youth level for the next generation of players from around the world,” while the star in the Los Angeles Sparks’ frontcourt called the event “a great initiative that will connect U.S. and international youth in a meaningful way.”
This is an ambitious attempt by the NBA to showcase the premier young basketball talent from all across the world. For more information, you can head to the official Jr. NBA World Championship website.