Last week, Fourth Year student Matthew was one of nine U16 basketball players in the UK to be invited to train with NBA All-Star LaMelo Ball, as part of his European tour sponsored by Puma. Aged 21, LaMelo is currently one of the most prominent players in basketball and was voted NBA Rookie of the Year in 2021; he has a big profile on social media and inspires a lot of younger players. 

Matthew tells us about the experience: “Last week Friday 9 June (my birthday coincidentally!) I was invited to participate in LaMelo Ball’s European Tour in London, which consisted of 30-minute training session with his coach Jermaine Jackson and a game of ‘knockout’ with LaMelo Ball himself.  

Matthew Oppong and LaMelo Ball

“It was very insightful as I found out details of his training routine and learned how much hard work he has put in to make it to where he is now. For instance, LaMelo spends around an hour alone floating the ball from the elbow to make sure the ball does not even touch the rim when it goes in! As I have similar long-term aspirations of becoming a professional basketball player, I really enjoyed finding out all this information. 

“We also received some amazing kit from Puma, who organised the tour, including a branded t-shirt, shorts, socks and a pair of LaMelo’s own signature shoe. After the event finished, LaMelo Ball’s trainer found out we shared the same birthday, and he ended up giving me a pair of LaMelo Ball’s unreleased shoe as well! So, all in all, a pretty good birthday.” 

Matthew is a very talented basketball player himself and currently plays for Richmond Knights as well as being on the Basketball England Talent Pathway Programme. At Trinity, Matthew played a key role in the U16’s London Schools League win in March this year (below), and received the Most Valued Player Award (right in photo). The team are all fairly new to basketball but are determined to improve and have set their sights on winning the U16 Schools National Cup next year. Watch this space! 

Mr O’Connor, Matthew’s Trinity Basketball coach says, “This is a huge deal for Matthew and something he fully deserves. He is still one of England’s hottest prospects in the current U15 bracket; this alongside his relentless determination and hard work means that it is not a surprise that he was chosen for this opportunity. It speaks volumes for Matthew’s attitude and development – well done.” 

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