Mark James, a product of Ipswich Basketball Club and Academy, and more recently a player for Oaklands College Wolves has signed with Bridgewater College, Virginia in the United States where he will combine his academics while furthering his basketball career.
Mark, who is from a family rich with basketball tradition that includes his grandfather Bernard Ball, his uncle Michael and of course his mother Kathryn, played his junior career at the club his family helped build, Ipswich Basketball Club. Between the age of 11-16 Mark was a leading player for Ipswich Basketball Club, representing the club in two Final Fours as well as a national cup final. At 16 Mark made the commitment to join Ipswich Basketball Academy, based at Copleston High School, following the pathway that so many of the elite players from Ipswich chose.
After a successful two years at IBA, during which Mark performed at a high level both academically and on the court (reaching the EABL Elite Eight twice), he made the decision to spend a year at Oaklands, under the guidance of his uncle Michael Ball – which proved to be a big step in his US college recruitment.
“We are incredibly proud of what Mark has achieved,” said Ipswich Basketball Head Coach Nick Drane. “He made a brave decision to spend his third year of Sixth Form with Oaklands but it was the right move for him as it gave him an opportunity to showcase his talents in a different environment.
“Having known Mark since he was so young it’s extra special to see him achieve this goal, but like I say to all of our players that get recruited to the next level – the hard work starts now.”
Drane added “Mark is one of the most enjoyable kids I have worked with. Not only is he hardworking, but he has a loveable personality and is genuinely fun to be around – we certainly missed him on and off the court this past season”.
Oaklands College Coach Lee Ryan added: “We are really pleased Mark has found his next home with Bridgewater College under the guidance of Coach Postiglione, having come to us after a difficult decision to leave IBA last summer, Mark’s desire to get different experiences in basketball will serve him well in the next four years.”
Coach Ryan continued “A terrific young man and a credit to his family, we are grateful to have played a small part in his journey. The IBA program and coaches deserve a lot of credit as they put in years of great development work with Mark and his year with us was purely about getting him to the next level; something we all are proud to see him achieve.
“Mark now has two outstanding academies in his corner, and just like IBA he will continue to get the full support of Oaklands Academy through his time in the US.”
Ipswich Basketball and Oaklands underlined their commitments to Mark in the following joint statement:
“This is a great example of two academies working together to do what is best for a young person. Ipswich and Oaklands were in regular communication throughout this process and it just shows how two organizations, that are rivals on the court, can work together off it to ensure our game, and the young people playing it can maximize their potential.”
Mark will spend the summer working on his game, most likely in both Hertfordshire and Suffolk, to ensure that he is in the best possible shape for the next stage of his basketball career.
Everyone at Ipswich Basketball and Oaklands wishes Mark every success in his future in the USA!