Alister Henskens portrait
Alister Henskens portrait

Barker Centre Headed For US

Alister with Ben Fakira

At 6 foot 10 inches (in the old measurements) and with a wingspan of 7 foot 2 inches, Ben Fakira is hard to ignore. So it was not surprising that three US colleges offered basketball scholarships to the talented Barker College centre when finished his Year 12 studies this year.

Fakira starred in 2017 for Barker in the CAS Basketball Competition, the undefeated Norths Bears representative team and the NSW Metro team at the Under 18 Australian Championships. He also participated in the FIBA Oceania tournament in 2015 where he won a gold medal as part of the Under 16 squad.

He has signed a national letter of intent to play in 2018 for the University of South Dakota Coyotes, or the “Yotes” as they are more commonly known to the legion of passionate fans, who regularly fill the Sanford Coyote Sports Centre.

After averaging 12 points, 10 rebounds and 60% shooting for his school this year, he is relishing the opportunity. “South Dakota runs a motion-based offence,” said Fakira, which suits me because the ‘bigs’ are highly involved and get to play both outside and inside.”

The University is located in a small town in south-eastern South Dakota called Vermillion and Fakira is planning to study Sports Marketing and Media there while juggling his basketball commitments. He will also have to become accustomed to the cold weather – Vermillion averages 44 inches of snow per year between the months of October and April, well above the national average.

None of that concerns Fakira who, unlike many first-year players that are “red-shirted”, that is, they do not immediately earn a spot in the squad, has been recruited to play immediately.

According to Fakira, this is because “Australian players are better prepared than their American counterparts for college action because we play in several teams at both school and representative level across the course of a season – I think that I played for about eight this year – and so we are exposed to many different styles of basketball and basketballers. I believe that means that we are more able to adjust to whatever is thrown at us.”

State Member for Ku-ring-gai, Alister Henskens SC MP, whose son played with Ben in both the Under 16 and Under 18 North Bears representative teams and at school during the last two seasons, has no doubt that Fakira will make his presence felt.

“Ben is a very skilled player near the hoop, with exceptional shot blocking and passing for a big man, together with a soft touch on his outside shot,” said Mr Henskens. “He will be more than a handful for his opponents.

“He is a fine young man who is a credit to his very supportive family.”

Fakira heads to the USA in early December where he will initially spend a few months at the Heritage Academy, a Prep School on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, before attending Summer School at the University in June prior to the first semester in mid-August.

[Attached is photograph of Ben Fakira recently receiving his NSW Government State Representative Award from Alister Henskens SC MP]