A former Newcastle Eagles prospect will head across the Atlantic with dreams of becoming a NBA star after a boost from a local charity.
Joe Sheeran, from North Shields, will study psychology at Prairie State College in Chicago when he starts a basketball scholarship in September and the 19-year-old has been able to accept the offer after North-East charity the PFC Trust, based in Hartlepool, agreed to support him with accommodation and living costs for the first two years of his programme.
The sponsorship has come about through former Eagles coach Calvin George, who is the club director and coach at Hartlepool Huskies basketball club. The Huskies have close ties with the PFC Trust and are supporting Joe too.
Joe said: “I have known Calvin since I played under him for the North-East Regional team when I was 14. That was the first time I’d played at a national level.
“He’s one of the best coaches I have had, made me a better person/player and we have stayed in touch. I’m so grateful for him putting me in touch with the PFC Trust.
“I’m very grateful because I wouldn’t be heading to the USA without the help.
“My mam (Toni) and dad (Dave) have always backed me to try to reach my goals. They have believed in me and encouraged me to get to where I am and I can’t wait now to head over to Chicago and get started.”
Joe recently finished a personal training qualification at Tyne Metropolitan College.
He first started playing basketball when he was 11 for North Shields before progressing to the regionals and the Eagles. He was invited to join the England camp at Under-15s and was selected for the Great Britain squad before Covid hit.
The shooting guard, who is also comfortable on the wing, had three seasons playing for the Eagles in the Elite Academy Basketball League and that has led to the opportunity in the States.
Talented Joe is athletic and has a good mix of shooting, dribbling, passing and playmaking skills aligned with his towering height. His favourite NBA star is the Milwaukee Bucks’ superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Joe said: “Giannis went to the NBA from a different country from a young age, didn’t come from much, so he is an inspiration to others dreaming of playing in the NBA.
“Even when he got to the USA, h
e was independent. He didn’t drive, he had to walk to the games and it’s like what I will be doing, I look up to him and his journey. It would be fantastic to get anywhere close.
“I have never travelled abroad to play. It will be totally different. I knew this time last year I wanted to go to America. It’s a huge opportunity, with better facilities, and I can also study while I’m over there so it will be fantastic.”
The PFC Trust has helped many organisations and individuals in Hartlepool and the surrounding areas since it was first set up by Frances Connolly in 2019 after winning the EuroMillions.
The Trust’s Carl Jorgeson said: “The PFC Trust exists to help people push to reach their dreams. We support people when they are struggling but also when they are reaching for the stars.
“Joe is a hugely talented lad and we are thrilled to help him. The PFC Trust has a scholarship programme and we welcome applications from others who have similar aspirations to Joe.”
*For further information about the PFC Trust check out www.thepfctrust.org