Two Myerscough College basketball students are continuing their studies, careers and development in the USA.
Mate Okros and Amari Williams met at Myerscough Basketball Academy and now continue their hoops journey together for Drexel, in Philadelphia.
They’ve been speaking to The Philadelphia Inquirer
“I would never have thought this,” Mate said. “If you would’ve told me my first year I would be able to play with my teammate back from England I probably wouldn’t believe you, but it’s a really cool moment and I’m glad.”
They met at Myerscough when Okros was trying out for the under-18 national team and Williams was trying out for the under-16 national team.
“Everyone in the country knew that Mate was the best player at the time,” Omari said. “So I didn’t really know what to expect when speaking to him at Myerscough.
It’s no surprise that a top player in the country would attend Myerscough Basketball Academy. The school is one of the more prominent academies in the United Kingdom. It’s an elite player development programme, designed to mimic a professional environment of academic study with a combination of top-level basketball training, specifically for players between 16 and 19 years old.
“Mate and Amari are Myerscough legends,” said Myerscough head coach and program leader Neal Hopkins. “Our relationship was not without conflict, led by my belief that both of them could make it to the next level. I had to push them hard at times, but they responded with amazing commitment and have forged life-changing moments for themselves.”
Mate led Myerscough to four national titles and was part of their first team to play in Europe. Omari followed and was able to lead the program to a European title — a first for a British team at that point.
One of the main goals of basketball at Myerscough is to help establish a balance between actually playing basketball and academic expectations, which feature modules including sports management, prevention of injury and how to increase your performance.
“The professional environment that was already created over there helped in the transition to Drexel,” Mate said. “Having access to the facilities all the time. Having access to the coaches there 24/7 — we could ask them to work out whenever we wanted to. And they tried to replicate what it would be like in the professional world so that really helped me to come over here.”
“It was really fun playing in the European Youth Basketball League (EYBL), especially traveling to all these different countries,” Omari said. “That was a good tournament we went into and we did well both my years there. My favourite place we travelled to had to be Poland.”
The 6-foot-6 Okros committed to Drexel in 2018. This season has started all 12 games, averaging 7.2 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.
Omari reunited with Mate at Drexel in 2020, and he played a major role in his decision to make the move to Philadelphia.
“He made me feel more comfortable going to a place knowing that I had someone there,” Omari said. “He came from a similar place that I did and seeing how it turned out for him led me to believe it would be a nice fit.”
“I told him if he comes here and gets homesick or school or basketball is not going well for him at the moment he will always have people around here that he can talk to,” Mate said. “And obviously I told him personally that I’m always gonna be here for him as a big brother. If he needs anything I’m always gonna be here.”
“Omari has stepped up a lot. He’s really stepping up in practice, getting to the gym after practice as well to work with coaches. His ability to use his height has improved a lot since Myerscough.”