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NBA 2K launches development camp for women gamers

The top 15 women are invited to the event in New York

11:48 AMIn an effort to increase the number of women in its league, NBA 2K is launching a development camp this month.

The league will hold its first “NBA 2K League Development Camp: Women in Gaming” from Aug. 20-23 at NBA 2K League Studio in New York City.

Fifteen of the top women NBA 2K players are invited to the camp under the tutelage of league coaches: Heat Check Gaming’s Derric Franklin, Pacers Gaming’s Cody Parrent and Nets GC’s Ivan Curtiss. Organizers hope the camp will help prepare the women for next year’s tryout process, including the combine.

“We believe a more diverse player pool will be a stronger player pool and that this camp will show there are more women who have the talent to play at the highest level,” said Brendan Donohue, the league’s managing director. “Our hope is that at least a few of these women end up excelling in the combine because of this camp and getting drafted, which we think will inspire more women to strive to make the league and lead to a stronger player pool.”

The event isn’t expected to transform the number of women in the league overnight, but there is optimism that it will help.

“The main reason I wanted to participate in the camp was because I wanted to be part of something that raises the awareness of the NBA 2K League to female gamers, and I would be somebody that the ladies would be familiar with from the 2K community,” Franklin said.

“I feel like it’s important to increase the number of female gamers in the 2K League because there’s no gender when it comes to playing video games. A lot of female gamers get discouraged by the process early, and I want to be one of the ones to tell them that they can indeed see the process through to the end.”

In 2018, when no women made the pool of players eligible to be drafted into the league, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league had to improve its recruitment efforts and determine whether women faced an impediment to competing in the game.

After assessing the issue, Donohue said, “One of the things we did find was when we talked to the best elite women players who played 2K, everyone wears a headset when they’re playing, and sometimes if they identified their voice and they were female, they stopped getting passed the ball.”

The league addressed that issue in 2019. “[W]hen we thought about our tryout process,” Donohue said, “we wanted to make sure, when we looked at the analytics, we wanted to analyze how good someone did when they had the ball in their hands, what they could control, how effective they were, how big of an impact they had on the game when the ball was in their hands.”

In March, Chiquita Evans became the first woman drafted into the NBA 2K League. Evans benefited from this process when she made the draft pool and was drafted by Warriors Gaming Squad, a feat that garnered her an ESPY nomination. Her team reached the semifinals of the league’s end-of-season tournament, losing to the eventual winners, T-Wolves Gaming.

Evans will talk to the women invited to the development camp about her experience in the league and recount her story of perseverance.