Capital City Go-Go, the Washington Wizards’ G League affiliate, held a basketball clinic at Charles Hart Middle School for youth Wednesday and plans to conduct similar activities in southeast D.C. this year.
Dozens of youth such as Ava Sawi, 12, learned how to effectively perform a crossover dribble, as well as proper footwork for a jump shot and defensive stances.
“I learned how to dribble with both hands and how to do a spin move,” said Ava, a seventh-grader from Springfield, Virginia. “I made some of my jump shots. I was told if you don’t have the right footwork, then your shot will be off.”
Besides basketball drills, newly hired general manager Pops Mensah-Bonsu and head coach Jarell Christian handed each youth an Adidas backpack filled with pencils, a notebook and a 2017-18 Wizards scrapbook.
Sean Williams Jr., 11, scoured through the backpack and noticed granola bars inside.
“I can use those,” said Sean, who attends Achievement Preparatory Academy in D.C. and begin the first day of school in seventh grade Aug. 27.
As for the Go-Go, named after the city’s signature musical genre, both Christian and Mensah-Bonsu have connections to the Wizards organization.
Christian worked as an assistant coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder for four years when Wizards head coach Scott Brooks led the Thunder. Mensah-Bonsu played on the Wizards’ 2013 preseason roster.
Now as general manager of the Go-Go, Mensah-Bonsu said open tryouts are scheduled next month with the hopes of attracting local talent.
The team’s 24 homes game will be played in the Southeast section of D.C. inside a state-of-the-art venue on the former St. Elizabeths campus. The arena, which will also be used to hold Wizards’ practices and home of the WNBA Washington Mystics, will be owned and operated by Monumental Sports and Entertainment founded by owner Ted Leonsis.
Mensah-Bonsu’s connection to D.C. starts from his four years at George Washington University, where he led the school to two NCAA tournament appearances. After his playing days, he worked as a scout for the San Antonio Spurs and an international liaison for NBA players.
“To be back in the community as a general manager for the G League team is special,” said Mensah Bonsu, who was born in London. “The biggest part for the team is development. We want to development the team and we also want to help develop the community. This is one of the community events that we’re going to be doing here. This is one of D.C.’s team.”
The team wants to build a fanbase throughout the region that would include Joshua Massenburg, 14, who begins the 10th grade next month at Bowie High School in Bowie, Maryland.
“I learned you have to put in the work to make yourself better,” he said after the clinic. “I’ll never forget this.”