Long before the Jay Wright era, another Villanova backcourt dazzled the Wildcat faithful with silky smooth moves, 3-point sharpshooting, and high-flying dunks. Before Randy Foye and Kyle Lowry, Darrun Hilliard and Ryan Arcidiacono, there was John Celestand and Howard Brown.
The talented backcourt led Villanova to 3 NCAA tournament appearances and a 1997 Big East Conference Regular Season Championship. Both were 1,000-point scorers and finished their careers among Villanova History Top-50 in scoring and Top-25 in steals and assists.
After donning the Wildcat Uniform, Brown and Celestand spent a combined 20 years playing professional basketball. Celestand was selected 30th in the 1999 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers, winning a 1999–2000 NBA Championship and spent several years in Europe playing professionally in Italy, France and Germany. Brown played professionally in Israel, Portugal, Venezuela, and in Spain where he won two championships, two scoring titles, and retired in 2012 as a top 10 Scorer in Spanish LEB League History.
On Saturday, February 28, the dynamic duo will provide an extraordinary opportunity for talented athletes whose dreams of breaking through the world of professional basketball have yet to manifest. The 2015 iBall FOCUS camp will take place at New Brunswick Middle School in New Brunswick, NJ.
FOCUS is a training and exposure camp for players seeking opportunities for the advancement of their professional basketball careers. NBA-level drills and competitive games put their talents to the test. The event culminates with an All-Star selection showcase featuring the best of all players participating at the camp. Elite players receive offers and recommendations to professional teams and agencies, including iBall United, a sports agency Brown founded in 2012.
Camp activities will take place from noon until 5pm. Player check-in is at 11am.
“I am very excited to bring this opportunity to a basketball community that holds a special place in my heart,” said Celestand on his return from a recent motivational speaking engagement. Since retirement, Celestand has founded, All-State Basketball where he trains aspiring basketball players in Central New Jersey and has worked with many non-profit organizations including Rutgers Future Scholars program mentoring future first generation college students in the New Brunswick and Piscataway, NJ areas.
Brown also has a passion for giving back. In 2000, he founded Live the Dream Foundation to provide scholarships to college-bound student-athletes in his hometown of Pottstown, PA. He also serves on other non-profits and has worked for Social Solutions Global, Inc, the leading software provider for Human Service organizations across the globe. He founded iBall to give back to the sport that has literally opened a ‘world of opportunities’ that he hopes to share with others.
“iBall is built for the player, by the player.” said Brown. “Our goal is to help teams and other agencies identify our players as the best options available for open positions both here in the U.S. and abroad.”
Since its inception in 2012, iBall has helped guide thousands of players in the advancement of their professional careers.
Bolstering the scouting team at iBall FOCUS is another experienced pro baller. Crista Ricketts, a recent inductee to Lasalle University and Philadelphia Big 5 Hall of Fames, brings over a half a decade of international professional experience in Spain, Austria, and Portugal. Other FIBA and NBPA licensed agencies and pro team personnel are scheduled to attend the event. More will view by video stream.
The team of former professionals understand the skills and resiliency that it takes to break through and advance a professional basketball career.
“I know the struggle very well,” said Brown. “Sitting at home when everyone else is off playing is not an easy thing to overcome. But I know firsthand that there’s lots of talented players that get overlooked each year. They just need a chance to show what they can do at the right place and time. Players are getting signed everyday all over the world. But you gotta keep fighting, keep learning the business, and believe.”
After tryouts with the New Jersey Nets, Golden State Warriors, Washington Wizards, and a list of US Semi Pro Teams, Brown found himself at home, wondering if his career would ever happen. He went unsigned for a season and a half before breaking through to find a team in Ferrol, Spain. He led the league in Scoring and was named an all-league selection, and went on to play for 13 years, mostly in Spain.
iBall FOCUS is open to all players who have exhausted their NCAA Eligibility. FOCUS is open for attendance by the general public ($10 Adults. $5 Students). Players that register in advance receive a free iBall Profile, a proven tool for assisting with the preparation and distribution of their basketball resume.
The event location is New Brunswick Middle School , 1125 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901.