Barbadian-born basketball power forward Hason Ward is on a path to success having graduated this year from Springfield Central High School and acquired a full scholarship to study sports medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University in September.
It was January 2016 when the former Lester Vaughan Secondary School student boarded the flight to Springfield, Massachusetts, to fullfil his dreams after being recruited by American coach Darryl Denson.
Now 18-years-old Ward said the opportunity had improved his ability tremendously where he has learnt patience, handling the ball better, working down the post and shooting.
“When I first visited Massachusetts in 2015 with my father [Hayden Ward] to visit for the summer, we met a coach over there and he saw how tall I was and said I would be a good fit for his team. He then got in contact with my parents, and everything worked out from there.
“When I first went there, I was not the best, but I was a pretty decent shot blocker, and that helped the team a lot. So, that was my role for the first year I was there, blocking shots and finishing above the rim, and as I got better, my role just became more advanced. I started doing more things on the court besides blocking shots. So, I developed extremely well because when I first went there everything was terrible and to see where I am right now is extremely amazing,” Ward said.
He added that his goal was to one day make the NBA and if that did not come through, he had a backup plan to play professional basketball in Europe. He also has his eyes set on wearing national colours on the senior Barbados team.
Ward who will join the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams team, the reigning National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball champions in Atlantic ten, said he plays year-round which was one of the things needed in Barbados.
“Barbados need more basketball because over there we play basketball all year-round because high school season starts September to April and then from April you travel with teams and that goes from April to the Summer to when school starts back again. And throughout that whole time, you would be in the preseason and working out all the time which is basketball all year-round. So, I think if basketball were to be all year-round in Barbados, it would be just as good,” he said.
The six-foot-nine Ward also hopes to one day fulfil his dream of being a coach or trainer and encouraged other youngsters like himself to grasp any opportunity given to play overseas. He also made mention of the developmental programmes to advance basketball in Barbados, especially at the youth level.
“Keep working, and if you get a chance to go school overseas and play the sport you love I advise them to take the chance… My high school coach [Darryl Denson] that had recruited me was invited to a camp recently by local coach Mark Jones at the gymnasium. And I was at the gymnasium all four days of the camp to see the kids,” Ward said as he took time to thank his parents for their dedication.
“My mother [Lasontha Sealy] helped a lot when I started getting a lot of division one offers. And when I had to make visits to different colleges because a player is only allowed five official visits before he picks his school. And I had two official visits and three unofficial, and after that, my mother helped me select my school and every year she would come down to watch the first game of the season or even a big game,” Ward said. [email protected]