CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Some high school student-athletes are still feeling the impact of COVID-19. Since the NCAA gave college athletes another year of eligibility, the decision is having a trickle-down effect on high school athletes seeking scholarships.
Two local coaches are helping build a bridge for student-athletes who are confused over their next move.
Coach Rolando Lamb and Coach Adrienne Ballard know a thing or two about basketball.
Ballard is a former Matoaca standout and Lamb is a VCU Hall of Famer who was drafted into the NBA. Lamb also coached his two sons, one of whom currently plays in the NBA.
Both coaches love the game but love teaching it to young people even more.
"Overjoyed. Excited about the opportunity to really make an impact in the community here. Especially in the community that I grew up in," Coach Ballard said.
Recognizing the dilemma facing many high school athletes, Coach A and Coach Lamb got the ball rolling on Chosen 1 Academy, something they believe can be a solution to the current problem.
High school students are finding it difficult to snag athletic scholarships from the colleges of their choice because players on those basketball teams are sticking around longer to take advantage of the added year of eligibility given by the NCAA in the pandemic.
"I just read that over 2,000 student-athletes are in the transfer portal so a lot of these kids are going to be left out. So what we are providing for them is a great opportunity to develop their skills, grow emotionally and grow in their character," Coach Lamb said.
On the 253-acre site in South Chesterfield, both coaches and their Chosen 1 Academy staff will train student-athletes in a gap year after high school. Players will live on campus, enroll in college courses, volunteer with area non-profits to satisfy community service and play a full schedule.
"So here is an opportunity that a kid can come out, play with us. It doesn't affect their ability to play at college. We will put them on the right path. We will support them all the way through so we can help them transition to whether they want to go to college or go overseas or if they want to go into the professional world. But it's still keeping them in a positive environment," Coach Ballard said.
The two said the post-graduate program is about much more than basketball. It's about giving players new hope and developing them on and off the court.
"Develop the whole person spiritually, mentally and physically and emotionally, we want to help restore these young people back to who they really are. Even if it's not sports. Some of these kids are going to be businessmen, businesswomen, doctors, lawyers, coaches. So the opportunities are endless and that's what we want to do," Coach Lamb said.
Players are now registering for the Chosen 1 Academy's upcoming combine on May 14 when staff will recruit players and assemble their first roster.
The eight-month program will begin in late summer.