Basketball: American has high hoops for Edinburgh

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American basketball entrepreneur Donald Sampley has returned home to St Louis, Missouri, greatly encouraged by his latest visit to Edinburgh where he hopes soon to rebuild a British Basketball League (BBL) professional franchise.

Sampley, who sees Meadowbank Sports Centre as his ideal home for a new club, wants, with the help of American investors – some of whom have strong Scottish connections – to establish a basketball academy in the city with a youth development programme designed to work with existing Scottish clubs.

Having already spent some time in Scotland getting to know the sport and the geography – he played for Troon Tornadoes in the Scottish League the season before last – Sampley had several key meetings on his recent trip with officials from BasketballScotland and Meadowbank Sports Centre.

He also met with the vastly experienced former Edinburgh Kings play-caller Danny Costello whom he has asked to coach the new franchise and help develop the Academy programme.

Sampley attended the recent Great Britain women’s games at Meadowbank and was impressed with the venue: “I was very excited to see the venue in use during the exciting set of games between GB and Canada as well as having the opportunity to see the Under-14 teams play.”

He added: “This information will impact on our investment group’s decision to move forward with an official application to the BBL.”

Sampley, who intends to take up residence in Edinburgh as early as November, hopes to process a bid for BBL entry for season 2013-2014. The BBL, which last season comprised 11 teams, has this week announced that two new teams have been admitted into the league for the coming season. They are Manchester Giants, who were previous members, and East London Royals.

The Scottish Rocks, who are still the only Scottish BBL team, began life as the Edinburgh Rocks in 1998 but quit the Capital and moved in 2002, playing first out of Braehead Arena and then as the Glasgow Rocks at the Kelvin Hall which recently staged its last sports fixture.

Next season the Rocks will move home to the splendid new Commonwealth Indoor Arena in Glasgow.