For a dozen basketball players in town for the Chick-fil-A Classic, the tournament experience will be a bit different.
Barking Abbey Academy of London has brought its squad to Columbia to compete in the Carolina Challenge Showcase.
“It’s definitely a culture shock for the guys. Especially the way basketball is here in the States, compared to in England, where the game is getting more popular and there isn’t this same kind of fan base and atmosphere,” coach Frank Holloway said. “So, to come from a place where it’s not as popular to a place where there is such energy and passion around the game, the kids really kind of feed off of it.”
“I think they’ll be able to play with passion and poise,” Holloway said. Barking Abbey will play host Richland Northeast at 8 p.m. Friday.
Aside from the mental change, there are differences to which the London team will have to adjust, such as the lack of a shot clock.
“We play with a 24-second shot clock in high school … so the pace of the game is different. We’re used to a different speed. I also think the physicality of how the game is played in the U.S. will be a challenge, but I think our big guys can handle it,” the coach said.
Holloway said this type of tournament will bring his players invaluable experience.
Holloway attended the Chick-fil-A Classic several times as a recruiter when he was an assistant with Florida International University.
When Barking Abbey attended the prestigious City of Palms tournament in 2013, Holloway asked that tournament’s director to put him in touch with the Chick-fil-A organizers.
“It says a lot about our tournament that they would choose to come here, so we’re honored to have them be a part of the Chick-fil-A, and we want to show them a great time,” tournament director Gary Fulmer said.
Several players are considering returning to the U.S. for college, and most of the team spent Thursday touring the South Carolina campus.
“It was always my plan to bring them here, even before they were being recruited here,” Holloway said. “It’s just a perfect time for us to be here.”