A Oaklands Basketball student has been announced as one of three Development Players with the Plymouth Raiders, which recognises young talent to develop skills and experience.
Aristide Baka will move to Plymouth following three years at Oaklands, serving in the Elite Academy Basketball league . A 5'11" point guard from France, the Raiders saw Baka as a very hard worker, great defensive player who controls the game well. He will be studying on the Strength and Conditioning Foundation Degree at City College Plymouth.
"We are delighted Aristide will continue his development and education with City College Plymouth and as part of the BBL team," said Lee Ryan, Oaklands Head Coach. "The Raiders are getting a first class young man that understands what it takes to be a performance basketball player.
“Aristide excelled in his opportunity at Oaklands College over the past three years; improving his guard skills, perimeter shooting and leadership; whilst also learning how to maximise his incredible athleticism and defensive capabilities. He out works everyone on and off the court and he won't be phased by this opportunity. A very humble guy but put a ball or weight in his hand and he becomes a warrior, so he will be ready for the challenge. I look forward to watching his progress throughout the season."
Baka will join Pius Gikunoo, Ricky Rocha and Aristide Baka to form three core members, who will be further joined by other members of the Raiders Academy, based at City College Plymouth, throughout the year. Players like Ben Peard, Ashley Hall and Jay Symms Lymn will get chances to work with the BBL squad.
"I've been very impressed with the work ethic and commitment that we've seen this week from Aristide, Pius and Ricky," said White. "However, they all need to keep working hard continue throughout the whole season. If they do that, then opportunities will come."
The Raiders have spent a lot of time this summer working on improving and modifying the Academy. A key change has been an increased from working to those up to 23 years of age, blending younger Academy players with older University level players, with all receiving valuable coaching input not just from White and Danny Stevens, but also from the Raiders' BBL players.
"It was important that we look to continue developing our Academy players past the age of 19," said Raiders Chief Executive Dave Briggs."It's very rare that someone of 19 years of age will move from any of the Academy programmes in the UK straight into a BBL team's squad. “We need to keep giving these players top quality training, playing and competition opportunities, and using the more senior BBL players as mentors. As part of the new Academy programme, we will be setting up a Raiders Under 23 team, that will initially play in friendly games, but in the future will move into a more formal competition structure.
“This allows us to keep educating and developing the players within the Raiders' structure, where they will play the same style of basketball as the BBL team. Together with the Raiders' Development teams, the Academy and Under 23s will form a vital part of the Raiders performance pathway for young players in the future."