Camille Nolasco grateful to learn from WNBA players in virtual camp

Published August 17, 2021, 8:00 PMRenee Ticzon

"I always consider it a blessing to be able to interact with WNBA players at this age. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," says Nolasco.

Camille Nolasco plays against Latin America during the 2019 Jr. NBA Global Championship.

Miriam College High School star Camille Nolasco is the only Filipino among the 50 basketball players selected to participate in the NBA Academy Women’s Virtual Program, an eight-week basketball and leadership development program that started last month. 

The program features interactive virtual lessons from WNBA players and NBA Academy staff. The top performing athletes will be considered for future in-person basketball development camps and showcases.

“Being the only Filipina in the NBA Virtual Program means so much to me. I represent all the young Filipina ballers who dream of someday playing for the WNBA” said Nolasco. 

The 16-year-old Nolasco, who picked up a basketball at the age of five, has come a long way from playing half-court games with her father and brothers. Through her hard work and determination, Nolasco is now regarded as one of the best high school prospects in the country. 

In 2019, Nolasco made it to the Jr. NBA Global Championship, where she averaged 6.6 points, 4.0 assists, and 1.8 steals in five games. This was the stepping stone that led her to the NBA Academy Women’s Virtual Program. She cherishes the unique opportunity of being able to represent the Philippines on the international scene.

“Being part of this virtual camp will pave the way for the world to know that Filipinas are competent in the global basketball arena,” said Nolasco.

The NBA Academy Women’s program caters to top high school players aged 14 to 17 outside of the U.S. Since its launch in 2018, twenty-five of its alumni went on to commit to U.S. NCAA Division I schools.

The development program focuses on the holistic development of its participants. Players are trained to improve on their individual skills like shooting, ball handling, and conditioning, but there is also an emphasis on leadership and life skills.

Despite being completely virtual this year, the program tries its best to deliver the same quality global experience. With 50 athletes from 21 countries participating, they are given the chance to engage in special cross-cultural exchanges.

“Interacting with a lot of female ballers from all over the world and talking about basketball stuff are always an exciting experience for me even though it’s only virtual,” said Nolasco. “I get to hear and learn from some of the NBA Academy alumni sharing their experiences and how it is to become a student athlete in the U.S.”

The program also gives access to current and former WNBA players, allowing the young participants to meet female athletes who were once in their shoes and made it all the way to the top women’s league in the world. 

“I always consider it a blessing to be able to interact with WNBA players at this age. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for every baller to meet an athlete they look up to,” said Nolasco. “Being mentored by WNBA players and coaches is the closest I can get to my WNBA dream at the moment.”

While attending a face-to-face program would have been the best experience, the online setup does have its own perks and benefits. 

“While there is nothing quite like being together on the court and having the opportunity to provide instruction in person, we are really encouraged by the impact of the virtual program and the response from the participants,” said Monica Rogers, NBA Manager, Elite Basketball Women’s Operations Lead. “We’re thrilled with the current and former WNBA players we’ve been able to have speak to the girls, which in part is due to the convenience and accessibility of virtual programming.” 

Nolasco, for her part, is grateful for the opportunity to learn and enhance her skills in the middle of a pandemic that has put most athletes’ careers on hold.

“Honestly, I never imagined I would be able to attend a virtual basketball camp,” said Nolasco. “I have learned a lot from the NBA Academy Women’s Virtual Program. I hope that when this pandemic is over, basketball leagues will open soon, and I’ll be able to apply the lessons on the hardcourt and in my basketball journey.”