BUFFALO, NY - When Darren Fenn ’01 decided to open a basketball training facility, people warned him it would never work. ‘Buffalo is a hockey and football town,’ they said. But if the Canisius Sports Hall of Famer has his way, it will be a basketball town too.
“Basketball could and should be a major sport in Western New York,” says the former center who remains one of only three players in Canisius history to exceed 1,400 career points and grab more than 800 career rebounds. “But the basketball talent is not being developed locally as it should be and fewer Division I players are coming out of Buffalo.”
Fenn launched WNY Premier Basketball Training to reverse this trend. The advanced training program motivates players to improve their game and maximize their potential. It offers physical conditioning and psychological coaching to athletes at all levels, from ages eight and up. And, to the surprise of Fenn’s critics, the business is a slam dunk.
Since opening the Orchard Park facility in 2015, more than 350 athletes have sought out Fenn’s back-to-basics formula for success.
“There is an old saying in basketball that Coach (Mike) MacDonald first said to me, that ‘Basketball is the most coached, but least taught game,’” Fenn says. “Too many coaches incorporate advanced moves into the workout without adequately teaching proper technique on basketball fundamentals.” Instead, he focuses on “ball handling, shooting form and mechanics, footwork and defensive strategies.”
As an undergraduate, Fenn planned to pursue a career in medicine. But when a stellar performance on the hardwoods caught the attention of a professional scout, he opted to follow his hoop dreams instead.
Over the next 14 seasons, Fenn globetrotted to ten countries, played for 11 teams and won championships in Russia, Bosnia and Germany.
“My basketball career allowed me to see the world and experience different cultures,” Fenn says. “It also opened my eyes to many alternative styles on how to play and teach this game I love.”
A biology major, Fenn is also a certified personal trainer. However, it’s his psychology minor that gives Fenn a competitive edge – on and off the court.
“It’s helped shed light on why players, coaches and teams tend to act the way they do.”
Fenn now “ties the mental aspect of the game” into whatever skills he teaches. “I try to challenge athletes but make sure they still have fun.”
Ultimately, Fenn wants to utilize his wealth of basketball experience to grow the sport of basketball in his hometown.
“This is a chance for me to put down roots in the area and give back to a community that allowed me to see the world,” says the Town of Tonawanda native. “Buffalo has the capacity to produce more college-level basketball players who can compete at a national level and it’s my goal to make that a reality.”