akano

Sam Akano: ‘I want to prove that height isn’t everything.’

At 5-foot-10, Myerscough's Sam Akano would be considered an undersized guard, but he's determined to prove that height isn't everything. Akano has adjusted to life away from London during his first year at the Preston-based Academy where everyday is a new experience with a new challenge.

LIVING AT MYERSCOUGH IS A NEW EXPERIENCE. Here, you have to do all the things needed to live on your own — like laundry and buying the right food. Back home I could get my brother to do everything for me, but now it’s learning how to take care of yourself.

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I’M ALWAYS LEARNING AT MYERSCOUGH. I’ve learnt so many things in such a short time at Myerscough. As a person I’ve learnt that shouting isn’t the answer — people don’t really react positively to that. I’ve also learnt how to become a leader. As an athlete, I’ve learnt that speed isn’t always necessary. I know I’m quick, but slowing the play down can lead to easier scores.

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IT TOOK TIME TO ADJUST. The training is always at a high intensity and that needs a 100 per-cent effort or you won’t be able to keep up.

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I UNDERSTAND WHAT’S EXPECTED OF ME AS A POINT GUARD. The first few months it took me a while to understand what I needed to do, but I know I need to be a vocal point guard that take control of the game. The coaches love when a player can play tough defence and that’s been a big adjustment, learning to pressure my opponent.

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PLAYING BASKETBALL IN PORTUGAL WAS A GREAT EXPERIENCE. It was great to see how they play basketball abroad and that helped me improve my game a lot because of the talent I went against. They never looked stressed on the court and always encouraged their team-mates even if they had made a mistake.

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I LOVE WHEN PEOPLE SAY, “YOU’RE TO SHORT FOR BASKETBALL”. My intensity comes from the heart and passion I have for basketball, but that also motivates me. I want to prove that height isn’t everything and my effort will take me somewhere in this sport.

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THERE’S LITTLE DISTRACTION AT MYERSCOUGH. It’s such a unique environment because there’s hardly anything that can distract you from making yourself better — the court is always open to get reps up and there’s access to the gym to get stronger. There’s no excuse to not improve.

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MYERSCOUGH IS A PLACE TO FIND SUCCESS. The coaching staff is always looking to give players the chance to participate in different tournaments in England and against high level competition abroad. These help you improve as a player going against new styles. They also are willing to give feedback so you can make the right adjustments to have success on and off court.

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IT’S A GOAL TO TRY AND GET A SCHOLARSHIP. I want to play basketball at a high level, but Myerscough ha shown me that isn’t an easy road. You have to fight for your spot because there are a lot of people at your position fighting for the same goals as you. It’s import-ant to do the extra stuff to get ahead, whether that’s putting up extra shots or eating the right food.

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MY FAMILY HAS BEEN THERE SINCE THE BEGINNING. And they motivate me and help me pursue my goals. When others doubt me, my family pushes me forward, and I want to show everyone that anything is possible.

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I THRIVE UNDER PRESSURE. [Coach] Troy [Culley] has showed me how to utilise pressure. We always talk about how I can improve both my strengths and weaknesses. We talk about how I can reach my goals. He’s show me how to become a true point guard and I’m grateful that he’s my coach.

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I EMBRACED STARTING BACK AT THE BOTTOM. It showed me my weakness and where I needed to improve and made me work on the basics. It also motivated me because I love competition and that fight to get to the top.

—with Allen Gunn


To find out more about basketball study programmes available at Myerscough College and to apply, click here.

@My_bball | #MySco

Myerscough College Basketball Academy Programme Leader and Head Coach. UKCC Level 4 Coach and two-time Elite Academy Basketball League Conference Coach of the Year.