OKC Thunder and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander solidify YMCA bonds

Nickel Alexander-Walker, Luguentz Dort, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander World Select Team pose for a team photo prior to the game against the USA Men's Junior Select Team on April 7, 2017 (Photo by Sam Forencich)
Nickel Alexander-Walker, Luguentz Dort, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander World Select Team pose for a team photo prior to the game against the USA Men's Junior Select Team on April 7, 2017 (Photo by Sam Forencich) /

OKC Thunder in the news features hot news on your favorite team with the franchise partnership with the YMCA and player Shai Gilgeous-Alexander emphasized this past week.

With the OKC Thunder well entrenched in the offseason it’s not stopping the franchise or its talented roster from spending time off court in their communities. This past week, for example, the YMCA was front and center.

OKC Thunder – YMCA partnership:

Up first the OKC Thunder announced their continuing efforts with the YMCA and the highly successful program the YMCA Thunder Basketball League.

"Another such effort was bolstered this past week with the franchise’s partnership with the YMCA. To wit, the OKC Thunder are expanding youth basketball leagues to 25 YMCA Branches. The effort will serve to reach 13,000 athletes and be available in 21 different local communities in OKC. This continues the expansion the franchise and YMCA began during a two year expansion."

As noted the program is expanding to reach 25 YMCA Branches in the Oklahoma City community. It’s believed the league will reach 13,000 athletes who’ll participate in 21 OKC communities.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander returns to his roots:

Like the OKC Thunder, young star Gilgeous-Alexander cites the YMCA as prominent in his development. The Canadian often hit his local Hamilton YMCA twice a day during his high school years as he worked to develop his fundamentals and improve his game.

This past weekend the Kentucky point guard returned home to that very YMCA where he spent time with approximately 100 local Hamilton and Burlington children. Gilgeous-Alexander engaged the youngsters in one on one basketball, helped them with pointers to develop their games and shared pizza with them.

SGA preached hard work and dedication to the young attendees noting anything is possible and how they can make it no matter where they hail from. A point given added relevance to the kids from this specific area of Ontario since Shai’s cousin Nickeil Alexander-Walker followed him into the NBA this summer when he was drafted by the Brooklyn Nets and later traded to the Pelicans where he’ll join top draft pick, Zion Williamson.

Jr. NBA Global Championships:

Following up on the rising Canadian talent, this past weekend also witnessed the finals of the Jr. NBA Championships. Both Canadian teams performed well at the event.

The Canadian Girls team won the International Bracket by defeating the team from Latin America 70-54 prior to succumbing to the powerhouse U.S Central Girls Team in the showdown of the event. The Central U.S. Girls team won their second consecutive title in a rout of Team Canada by a score of 72-35.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Boys West Team defeated Team Africa 70-61. Although the Boys Canadian team missed the big event they did reach the finals of the International Bracket where they got thumped by team Africa 80-46.

As per the NBA site the tournament was a success and is expanding each season:

"The global youth basketball tournament took place from Aug. 6-11 and featured 32 of the top 13- and 14-year-old boys and girls teams from around the world.  Overall, 15,000 players from 75 countries participated across Jr. NBA Global Championship regional competitions."

Clearly, Americans are still the premiere country when it comes to basketball. But the Canadian and African teams are showcasing just how quickly the sport is growing in their countries. To that end, expect plenty of future drafts to feature Canadian and African prospects in the mix.

Like the kids at SGA’s camp, Canadian kids are more invested than ever in the sport and coupled with the Toronto Raptors winning the NBA Title this year the sport is arguably the most popular it’s ever been north of the border.

More from Thunderous Intentions

This is echoed via the Canucks already in the NBA like SGA, Jamal Murray, Andrew Wiggins, and many others. The OKC Thunder feature two Canadians with Luguentz Dort also on the roster. Likewise, the MVP of the Summer League was the Grizzlies draftee Brandon Clarke who may join Dort on Team Canada at the FIBA World Cup this summer.

In addition, Canadians drafted or picked up by teams this summer also include Mfiondu Kabengele (Clippers), Marial Shayok (76ers), Oshae Brissett (Raptors), RJ Barrett and Ignas Brazdeikis, (Knicks), Kyle Alexander (Heat) and SGA’s cousin Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Pelicans).

While it’s doubtful America will ever be surpassed as the predominant world basketball power the Canadians are making a mark. And with that, the OKC Thunder can expect to gain tons of fans north of the border as they follow Gilgeous-Alexander and Dort’s progress.

I’ve already had friends contact me to inquire about which games would be best to travel to OKC to attend and information on local restaurants and hotels, with of course a few asking about the Skirvin Hilton and whether it’s really haunted.

Next. NBA Draft night makes strong statement – the Canadians are coming!. dark

That’s in for in the news today. The NBA schedules should be released later today so make sure to check back as the TI team break down the OKC Thunder schedule for the upcoming season.