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About The NBA Academy Shandong

The NBA and the Shandong Provincial Basketball Management Center has partnered to launch The NBA Academy Shandong, an elite basketball training center in Jinan in the Shandong Province of China. The training center houses about eighty male and eighty female student-athletes aged 14-18.

The NBA’s partnership with the Shandong Provincial Basketball Management Center builds on the NBA’s existing basketball and youth development initiatives in China. In November 2015, NBA China, the Beijing Municipal Education Commission and the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Sports announced the launch of the first Jr. NBA Basketball League in China. In October 2014, the NBA and the Ministry of Education of China announced a comprehensive multiyear partnership to incorporate a fitness and basketball development curriculum in elementary, middle and high schools across China. In February 2014, NBA China and Yao Ming launched the first ever after-school basketball program in Beijing, providing basketball training and fitness programs for boys and girls at all skill levels. In November 2011, NBA China and Dongguan New Century launched the CBA Dongguan Basketball School for players ages 12-17.

“Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world, and Shandong is proud of our basketball tradition. We have many talented players who play on the international stage already. NBA Academies will bring Shandong closer to the NBA and will help us grow the game of basketball in Shandong.”
-Yang Gang, Shandong Provincial Basketball Management Center Director

Coaching Staff

CRAIG BROWN
Player Development Coach
Coach Craig Brown was a four-year player and team captain for the University of Florida basketball team, which reached the Final Four in 1994. After playing professional around the world, Craig coached at the University of Central Florida for almost 15 years. He also served as the Director of Basketball Operations for NBA Asia for two years.
MATT BLUE
Player Development Coach
Coach Matt Blue was a four-year player and captain at St. Lawrence University. Since graduating, Matt has gained almost of decade of coaching experience at multiple levels, including stints at Lafayette College and the University of Hartford.
SHANE CONNOLLY
Strength and Conditioning Coach
Coach Shane Connolly is an accredited and certified strength and conditioning coach. He received his masters in kinesiology from St. Mary’s University, where he also served as the Director of Strength and Conditioning.
ALEX ENGLISH
Technical Advisor
Coach Alex English is an 8-time NBA All-Star, 3-time All-NBA Second Team member, and the 1983 NBA scoring champion. This 1997 Basketball Hall of Fame inductee has served in player development and assistant coaching roles with the Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks and Sacramento Kings.
JENNIFER AZZI
Global Technical Director, Women's Program
Coach Jennifer Azzi oversees all regions of The NBA Academy Women’s initiative. A former WNBA player (1999-2004), USA National Team Player (1988-2000), two-time NCAA All-American and Olympic Gold Medalist (1996), Jennifer has an abundance of basketball experience on the court and as a coach on the sidelines. The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee (2009) led the University of San Francisco women’s basketball program from 2010-2016.
BLAIR HARDIEK
Global Technical Director, Women's Program
Coach Blair Hardiek oversees all regions of The NBA Academies Women’s initiative. A former point guard and captain for the University of Missouri women’s basketball team, Blair served as the associate head coach at the University of San Francisco and helped lead the team to a West Coast Conference Championship in 2016. Blair’s playing and coaching experience will drive the scouting and talent development initiatives of The NBA Academy Women’s Program.