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So you want to be an AIS athlete: Janx' view on what it takes

June 25, 2016

 

Alex Mudronja and Owen Hulland in the pic above.  No idea what they are doing with their fingers?!?!?!?

 

A talent factory forming in South Australia

 

In the coming few years, South Australian Basketball has the chance to gain international acclaim as a talent factory.  Never has there been the combination this level of talent and international interest in our talented kids.  These guys have a lot of work still to do to achieve this lofty statement but I know they can do that. This week we take another leap forward.  All involved should be proud, coaches, families, administrators and supporters.  Their team mates and of course these player's themselves deserve congratulations for their dedication, commitment and hard work to achieve their best.  This success can build a culture in South Australia, and lay groundwork for future generations coming through in my opinion.

 

Two SA athletes are joining  fellow SA kid, Lat Mayen, at the COE/Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra.  The AIS is the fabled institute in Australia where guys like Patty Mills, Dellavedova, Bogut, Ingles, Baynes etc spent time. Owen Hulland from Norwood Flames and Alex Mudronja from Sturt Sabres will join Lat, also from the Sturt Sabres.   It is a pretty big achievement for SA Hoops to have 3 young men at the AIS at once from our state, including 2 guys from my current club, Sturt Sabres.  Infact Lat and Alex were from the same team last year at Sturt and I was lucky enough to coach them both at the mighty Sabres. 

 

Sam Simons is also there with the girls and is one of the top female prospects in the country.

 

The last SA boy was there about 6 years ago.  This was another athlete I was lucky to work with a lot, over quite a few years in Central Districts Lion's Daniel “Big Diesel” Carlin.  Prior to Daniel, Sturt had Claybrin McMath from SA at the AIS.  To have 3 from SA there at once is just great and something rarely done out of South Australia.

 

I am proud of Owen and the fact he is from Norwood.  As a former Norwood junior player myself I remember the last time Norwood had a boy at the COE/AIS in Daniel Thompson, maybe 15+ years ago.   Owen has just had a Jeremy Linn experience in the past few months.   Like much of the talent out of SA recently, has gone from virtual unknown, not even being included on the squad for U17 World Championships selection, to having D1 college offers already, basketball without borders invite and now an AIS Scholarship.  I remember our plane flight back from Sydney in January 2016, having a long chat with Owen about pathways in Australia and abroad.  At this time he looked at me and said; Janx I cannot see the difference between me and other top big men in the country.  I had to be honest with his conundrum and I told him that I did agree, I could not see much difference either, infact I thought he could be better than some others.

 

My experience working with SA kids that have gone to the AIS

 

I have worked with Lat, Alex and Daniel Carlin significantly at club, state and on a personal level and became close to them and their families over that period and beyond.  In Owen's case, I did not work with through the club system, only at state and NITP level and I feel he really excelled through our state process.  They are all actually profiled as a part of the "Athletes" page on this site, and I personally feel honored they and their families wanted me to stay involved in mentoring and supporting them.  They were a privilege to work with and it is important to acknowledge their outstanding character traits here as well as what others can learn from their success. Anyway my point is, having worked with these guys so much, I guess you could say I’m maybe somewhat of an expert at knowing and working very closely with guys from SA that have attended the AIS in recent years.  This got me to thinking, what does it take?  What do these guys have that no one else has got?   What should young players, with their parents support, be focusing on to get to this elite level? In