TEESSIDE RECRUIT BBL LEGEND CHARLES SMITH AS JUNIOR NL COACH
Teesside Lions are delighted to announce the addition of one of the greatest players to have played in the British Basketball League (BBL).
Charles Smith will join the club as a junior national league coach and programme director alongside James Thomson.
The signing of Charles represents an ambitious move by the club in its aspirations to develop one of the best youth programmes in the country.
Charles will work with James across all the junior national league teams from u12-u18 in an effort to take the club to another level.
The club has come a long way in a short space of time but this latest move echoes the passion for youth focussed development, coach and owner James Thomson has.
James welcomed Charles to his first official session this week and introduced the American basketball legend to players. He views the latest signing as an important part of the masterplan, adding:
“I have always placed a huge amount of time and energy on our grassroots development. We have a successful ‘pro’ men’s team which takes up a lot of resource, but I hope this shows how serious I am about looking after the young aspiring players within our club.
“In a short space of time, we have developed a national league pathway, and sustainable teams with a strong conveyer belt of young players coming through.
“We have enjoyed a good season this year with the u14s going unbeaten, the u16s finishing fifth place and the u18s showing their potential despite many being a year young. 29 players were sent to the regional Aspire programme and the icing on the cake was an England call up for 13 year old Oscar Mahoney.
“This though is just the start and we are hungry to achieve more. We have laid solid foundations for future success and are already reaping significant rewards.
“To go further we must add to our coaching team and Charles Smith, as one of the biggest names in British basketball is a wonderful addition.”
Charles was born in 1975 and is a 6’6” forward from Philadelphia, USA. He attended Rider College in New Jersey and enjoyed a glittering professional career between 1999-2016. In 13 years with Newcastle Eagles he won 21 major trophies including six MVP titles, including the league MVP in 2015.
He played more than 436 BBL games and scored more than 7000 points. His highest points in a single game was 49 in 2013 against Durham where he had an efficiency rating of 56 which is the second all-time high in the history of the BBL. He is fourth as the all-time leader in 3-pointers made (767), and sixth as the all-time leader in steals with 639.
In 2016 Newcastle retired his number 10 jersey.
Charles has been coaching at Newcastle University with their NBL Division One team and player development and is looking forward to the new challenge at Teesside Lions.
Charles, who lives in Gateshead, said: “This is a new challenge and one I am looking forward to. I have been aware of Teesside Lions over the years and they are a club rapidly progressing in the right direction. It’s an exciting time to get involved with them and I am looking forward to working with James, the other coaches at the club and of course the players to reach new heights.”
Of his first impressions, Charles indicated he was impressed with the numbers, skill-sets and attitude but is looking for more.
“There are some good players across the age groups and James has done a good job with the club ethos. The players are respectful and responsive. It’s definitely a promising programme but I will be looking for more. If they want to be elite level players we are going to have to work hard. James has ambitions to be in the Junior Prem League in the next two years and to succeed in this we need to be better. It all starts now.”