COLUMBIA, SC — One local AAU girls team will be putting South Carolina on the map in the inaugural Jr NBA World Championships.
The South Carolina 76ers will start their quest for the world title this week in Orlando. This team has some of the best players in the area and the Southeast. Five players from the Midlands including Laila Acox from Ridgeview, state champion Tyra Myers of Hammond and Anala Nelson of Lower Richland are on the team as well as players from Georgia and North Carolina.
Games in this tournament will be aired on FS1 and Bleacher Report Live. The bracket is made up of the top 8 US teams and International teams and with backing from the NBA and WNBA this is big deal and 76ers head coach Roger Wiley, who has been coaching for over 20 years, says his team could shock the world.
"You know when we entered into it we didn't realize the impact but as we've gone along we've see how much effort and funding the NBA has put into this and there's going to be NBA players and WNBA players supporting it so it's you know it's a blessing," Roger said.
Now if the 76ers do indeed shock the world and bring back some hardware it would be a huge achievement for their program and girls basketball in South Carolina.
"If we won a championship it would exceed our expectations. We're going there to win but we know what the task is but if we come back with that we feel like we've earned our summer. We've done all the work during the summer and earned a little break so we're excited. "
One of the standouts on the team is rising Cardinal Newman freshman Ashlyn Watkins. She is set to graduate in 2022 is already on the national radar with a couple of dunks to her credit.
You don't see that from a rising freshman girl too much so she'll have even more eyes on her in the JR NBA tournament.
This summer has been beneficial because she is being pushed by playing against talented teams like the ones she'll be facing in this world championship.
"Well AAU it's stronger people, it's faster but in high school it's different and it's not as competitive," Ashlyn said. "It's fun really and I like working with [the 76ers] but it's getting be better also but it's fun."
When asked if she has any dunks planned she said,"I'll try."
The SC76ers (Southeast) start pool play this Tuesday, August 7th against the West Coast.