Senior national center Charles Vanderpool says Barbados’ basketball is crying out for skilled ‘big men’ to play in the paint and is bemoaning the fact that the majority of existing six-footers want to be guards.
Vanderpool’s comments came after he coached Future Pinelands Under-19 basketball team to a third consecutive title in the Barbados Amateur Basketball Association Summer Jam tournament this past Sunday night at Barbados Community College.
According to Vanderpool, it was not just local basketball that was gravitating away from utilising big men on the court, but also international teams were centering their focus around guards.
“I think that the game of basketball itself has gravitated away from big men, but I believe that there will be a time that it will start to filter back to big men. I think it is like a cycle. Once upon a time, it used to be for big men with the Shaquille O’Neals, the Olajuwons, the Abdul Jabbars. It used to be for big men, and then Jordan [Michael] came, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, LeBron James came, and it started to filter away to guards. So, eventually, teams are going to structure defensively to stop guards, and that will open the floor for the big men.
“I think one of the problems in Barbados is we don’t have a lot of skilled big men and the majority of our big men want to be guards, and I don’t understand why. If I look at a national team and I see a spot for eight guards, and I look around and see three big men, I want to be the big man. But all our big men desire to be guards.”
Even though it was a challenge for Barbados when the senior national men’s team travel to compete, Vanderpool said they tried to make the best of the situation. He explained that when the side traveled last year to compete at the Caribbean Basketball Championship in Suriname where they finished third overall, national power forward Akeem Marsh was this country’s most dominant player.
“In terms of overseas, we play with what we have, if we have big we go towards the big if we have guards we play with the guards. Last time we went away Marsh [Akeem] was our dominant player, and he was big. We still played through Lockhart [Andre], but in terms of when we needed something at the basket, we played through Marsh. So, there is still room for bigs.
“I went away on a scholarship as a big and I played division two [basketball] as a big. A lot of people said when you go overseas you are going to be a guard, but I played big. There are undersized bigs, Charles Barkley [NBA Hall-of-Famer] was big, and he is about six-four, so big is not really about size. But people don’t see the glory. So as coaches we need to filter that back in, we need to show them a spin move is nice too, a little drop step to jump shot to dunk is nice too. So we as coaches around the entire island need to bring back glory to Bim,” he said.