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Claremont High School Academy

Every step you take 

We meet one Claremont student with all the right moves  

It’s many a young person’s dream, and the stuff of high-school movies… You’re playing in a local basketball game, a manager sees your potential and invites you to join their team, bigger games follow, then you’re spotted by a scout and, aspiring to be like LeBron James, America calls.  

That’s essentially what happened to Year 10 student, Justin Fagbenle, who at just 15 years of age is currently one of the leading players for the Brent Panthers Under-16 Basketball Team. (Brent Panthers are ranked as the top under-16 team in the England National League Tables.) To top this, Justin’s recently been scouted as a potential candidate for a trip to the USA this summer to compete for a full athletic scholarship to a college in America. This boy’s gone far, but how did it all get started?  

‘At first I was playing basketball for fitness,’ says Justin. ‘My mum took me to a place near my house to play and, over time, my love of the game grew and I thought maybe I could find a career in it. I was 12 at the time. I eventually started playing games - I played with Barnet Bulldogs first, then moved on to London Elite.’  

It was an old acquaintance of his uncle’s that took Justin to the next level. ‘At my second game for Elite, my uncle met his former basketball coach, who runs the Brent Panthers and invited me to play for them.’ This led to some debating for Justin, who was anxious about the move: ‘I couldn’t sleep. I thought, “Do I change teams again?” I reasoned, “This man actually coached three of my uncles,” so eventually I decided to go with this new team.’  

More success followed in 2023 with Justin being selected for the London Regional Talent Development programme, ASPIRE, and being put on the pathway for recruitment to the England National Team. ‘Basically, it’s a programme where they pick the best young talent across England and train you to play all over the world in different international competitions.’  

England today, America tomorrow. What would a trip to the USA mean in reality? ‘In America the competition is very high,’ says Justin. ‘They pick talent from around the world to play there. You’ll be playing in front of scouts and coaches - people will be watching every step you take. There’s a big chance of being noticed and getting a scholarship.’  

So what’s his ultimate ambition? Justin smiles: ‘The dream is to play in the NBA and be the greatest ever!’ And who are his heroes? ‘LeBron James. In my opinion, he’s the best to ever play the game. I’ve tried to model how he plays. If you want to be the best, shouldn’t you train like the best?’  

And what advice would Justin give to anyone wanting to follow in his footsteps? ‘First of all, you have to work hard. The thing about basketball is it’s never going to get easier. You have to constantly evaluate your game and fix the flaws. You’ve got to persevere. Your confidence has to be very high - you have to believe in yourself. If you don’t, no one else will. And you’ve also got to have a winning mentality. The difference between getting a scholarship or not is all about having the right mind-set.’  

Clearly Justin possesses all of the above. We’ll definitely be watching him from now on, cheering him on to his next success.