U.S. Department of State Announces First-Ever NBA-WNBA Sports Envoy Program to Cambodia

Released on July 8, 2016

The U.S. Department of State, in collaboration with the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), will send Wayne Ellington and Sue Wicks as Sports Envoys to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 12–17.  The Sports Envoys will develop skills and generate even more interest in Cambodia for one of the world’s most popular sports.  Cambodian youth will not only learn and improve basketball skills; the Sports Envoys will also focus on teamwork, effective communication, building self-esteem, and other lessons learned through playing basketball.

The U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh is working together with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, the Cambodia Basketball Federation, and the Fulbright and Undergraduate State Alumni Association of Cambodia to host the Sports Envoys and organize a wide range of activities throughout the week.  Among these are two signature events that are free and open to the public:

  • July 14, 9:00 am – A basketball court renovation project at Wat Koh High School in Phnom Penh, open to volunteers from the local community.
  • July 15, 5:00 pm – Special event at the National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh, with basketball games, musical performances, and more.

Sports Envoys are athletes and coaches who travel overseas to lead programs developed by U.S. embassies and consulates.  The Sports Envoys hold clinics for young people and coaches, participate in community outreach activities, and engage youth in a dialogue on the importance of leadership and respect for diversity.

SportsUnited manages the Sports Envoy programs, working in cooperation with the U.S. Olympic Committee, U.S. sports federations, and professional leagues.

For more information about the Sports Envoys’ programs and performances in Cambodia, please contact the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh.  Members of the media wishing to cover specific activities or participate in press events should contact ChreaV@state.gov.

Wayne Ellington was selected 28th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2009 NBA Draft.  Ellington, who spent last year with the Brooklyn Nets, has also played for the Memphis Grizzlies, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers.  As a collegiate athlete, he helped lead North Carolina to the 2009 NCAA National Championship and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2009 Final Four.  Ellington was the recipient of the 2015-16 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, which is presented annually by the Professional Basketball Writers Association to the NBA player, coach or athletic trainer who shows outstanding service and dedication to the community.

Sue Wicks was a first-round selection by the New York Liberty in the WNBA’s inaugural draft in 1997.  Wicks went on to play six seasons with the Liberty, earning an All-Star selection in 2000.  She also was the recipient of the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award in 2000 and finished her WNBA career in eighth place all-time in blocked shots.  She played collegiately at Rutgers University, where she was a three-time All-American and the 1988 National Player of the Year.  She was inducted into Rutgers’ Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in June 2013.  A gold medalist at the 1987 Pan-American Games, Wicks spent more than 15 years playing professionally overseas.