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Picayune Basketball Association has evaluation day

Throughout the months of October and November, girls and boys from kindergarten up to 6th grade could register to be on a team in the Picayune Basketball Association.

In order to count the athletes and determine the number of teams, PBA had an evaluation day on Dec. 7 to find the answers to those questions.

Eric Vianney is the head coach of the basketball program at Picayune Memorial High School and also helps run the PBA.

Vianney said approximately 90 children of all ages signed up to play basketball this year.

Due to the high number of signees, Vianney said there will be likely be six to eight teams playing 5 on 5 basketball.

It’s an eight-week program centered on teaching children the basic concepts of basketball while also exposing them to competitive situations.

Starting basketball players young with is important because it allows the athletes to hone their skills over the years, while also showing them how to be students of the game.

“If you learn something when you’re young, by the time you get to high school there’s no limits. You understand concepts so easily,” Vianney said.

PBA serves as a feeder program for the junior high teams, which in turn pumps talent into the varsity team.

Athletes can spend a decade playing basketball before even reaching the high school level and that experience translates to better talent on the floor.

However, the main purpose of PBA is to hone in on the fundamentals of basketball.

Dribbling, passing, shooting and defensive positioning are just a few of the things athletes learn while participating in the program.

“You try to teach them certain fundamentals at the beginning because some have never played basketball. Then during the fifth week we start seeing competition,” Vianney said.

Since they have learned the fundamentals at a young age, the athletes can improve drastically before heading to the high school level.

Vianney said the improvement is obvious as the athletes spend more years playing and by the time they reach him in high school they’re solid, well rounded players.

“You just watch those kids improve. When they come to you in high school you’ve got a product, you’ve got guys who understand their assignment,” Vianney said.

Vianney leans on his own experiences as a child when it comes to trying to reach children who could be interested in playing basketball.

Without programs like PBA there aren’t avenues for organized competition, and that’s why Vianney says the program is so important.

“I didn’t have that at that age, but I wish I did. You have to go back and reach those kids,” Vianney said.

The first game of the program will take place Jan. 11.