Big chill heads for California
Tshilidzi "Big Chill" Nephawe was the toast of Mphaphuli High School in Makwarela village, Thohoyandou, when the school and Basketball South Africa bid him farewell for his trip to California in the US on Tuesday.
The 2,01m tall 18-year-old was awarded a five-year scholarship at the Basketball Academy in California after an outstanding performance at the international Basketball Without Boarders camp in Johannesburg in September.
Nephawe was discovered by the Limpopo Basketball Association during their roadshow in April 2006. Three months later, he was selected to play for the national team and the University of Venda.
He will leave for California tonight, where he will finish his schooling.
"As a school we wish this young man all the best and further want to plead with him to push his basketball career jointly with his studies," Lufuno Mulaudzi, Mphaphuli's principal, said yesterday.
"Tshilidzi's departure will assist in accelerating the development of basketball in the country," Malumbete Rathele, BSA's first vice president said.
"I must emphasise that the relationship between youth, education and sport can realise a lot of dreams and Tshilidzi has chosen basketball as a vehicle to achieve his dreams."
Rathele also credited Thiery Kita, a Cape Town-based coach who is attending a camp hosted by NBA champions Boston Celtics in Boston, for helping with Tshilidzi's move.
Nephawe is grateful for the opportunity.
"My commitment is that I will work hard to ensure that I do well in both basketball and my studies," he said. " I will plough back to the community through coaching clinics when I am back home on holidays. I will represent my school, parents and country well in the USA."