Basketball Australia's College Prospects Combine
Photo credit: Centre of Excellence @ Australian Institute of Sport
Thanks to having the chance to be involved with some great young men, and and their families allowing me to talk to colleges about them, I had the opportunity to get a heads up on this event a number of months ago. I was engaging with many, many college coaches at the time and one of the common questions was; "when will he play over here?". Tight schedules for our best Aussie players, with year 12, financial costs and many other basketball commitments make it very hard for all of them to get to the US to play in their Senior HS year.
This event was a golden opportunity to finally get the coaches to see these guys in person and see if they were willing to make the commitment to fly across the world to see them play. I had planned to go across to watch the event but as I was going across anyway I was invited to be involved as an Assistant Coach.
It was also great to see some of the Featured Athletes Alex Mudronja, Lat Mayen and Owen Hulland in their new home, in their element. The facilities there are off the charts and I was actually taken aback by how good those guys have it. Managed to see the recovery centre, mess hall, basketball training facility and a few other areas. I feel that the coaches there select players not only for their talent and potential but also for their ability to be good men. It creates a great environment to live in when you actually have good people to spend your time with.
The COE@AIS staff were so welcoming from the outset and they were very thankful to everyone involved for helping out. For me personally it was rather daunting to be at this event but I got to Assist the COE Assistant Coach Markus Klusemann in team gold and that was great to see Markus in action. The x's and o's he was able to put in, in a very short space of time was impressive and even more impressive was how quickly the players picked it all up. The positive coaching style but his ability to PUSH players hard displayed was something that the team appreciated in Markus' coaching style.
The 3xCOE@AIS kids involved in our team only reinforced one of the qualities that the coaches there look for that I mentioned in my blog - So you want to be an AIS athlete: Janx' view on what it takes - of likability. I knew one from SA already, but the others were also great men. They were all good guys and just great to chat to and get to know. All the other guys in our team were similar. It was just a positive environment and great to see them play hard, smart, team basketball eventhough they had never played as a team before, whilst ultimately playing to get hopefully get some college interest, they still put the team first.
The games were at a higher level than u18 Nationals and probably slightly higher than many games at U20 National Championships. The referees let alot of contact go which made for some great, very physical, flowing basketball.
It was also great to get to know the other Aussie Coaches involved. Meeting most of them all very briefly in the past years it was great to get to know a few of them better, hearing about what they are doing in their states, how their club programs are going and getting to know them on a personal level.
Over lunch, got to chat to David Spear and hear his vision and passion for the Free Throw Foundation amongst other things. The foundation, founded by David, helps break down barriers (often these are financial) to participaton in our great sport. He some great ideas in the pipeline, and I think organisations like the NBL need to be listening to some of his ideas as it will be a win/win for all involved. A Nike rep who was watching the event intently, also happened to be sitting at the table during the conversation listening very intently to David's vision and asking some questions too.
Apparently the US coaches there gave feedback to the organisers that they loved the quality of games. Their feedback to the organisers included that the toughness, team work and execution of the games are much better than in AAU tournaments.
Talking to Basketball Australia executives during the event they are very keen to explore possibilities to expand the event and discussed possibilities like running a separate one for women and expanding the number of teams and players next year which would be a great idea. I truly hope this kind of thing continues as it was just brilliant for all involved.
To other players than may like to take part in this event, like Isaac White says in his blog on Mental Toughness and Dedication. Opportunity that comes is often out of your control. The main thing is to focus on the process work extremely hard to make sure that when your opportunity comes you are ready. I hope all players in South Australia have this mindset, as it would be great to see more South Australian kids doing well at the next BA Prospects Combine.
I was very proud of U18 Sturt team mates Isaac White, Jacob Rigoni and Alex Mudronja who showed a great ability to get on the rim, create contact and finish in traffic. Except when Isaac did this against our team yellow (ha!!). Likewise, Koen Sapwell from Central Districts Lions is really developing size and strength to get on the rim and finnish with some crafty skills in the paint. Now they are stronger and more developed all the work they did on this is really proving to be very effective. See the blog What is Janx'Ball for more information on some of the things we did to develop this skillset. They were amongst the best there in these areas and it something I feel they worked on alot playing with and against each other at trainings in their u18s years.
Out of respect to organisers I have to be careful not to give away too much specific information on the event. US Coaches should contact the organisers at the Center of Excellence if they want more detail, stats or video footage OR better yet ATTEND NEXT YEAR!!
Here is a breakdown of the teams and coaches, with some very basic information on the kids from South Australia, this is my own personal views. It was hard for me to see ALL the games in detail, whilst concentrating on coaching team yellow, and so contact the COE@AIS staff if you want more detail.
Michael Cassidy (Coach),
15 Vanja Gazibegovic,
14 Samson Froling,
11 Andrew Ferguson,
8 Koen Sapwell, - showed that he more than belonged at this level. Remains a very good shooter, that continues build significantly size and strength to get to the rim and defend with with body contact. Putting up very good numbers and performances in our local Premier League too for such a young man.
5 Gabriel Hadley,
Eric Minevre (Coach)
1 James Toohey,
7 Lachlan Dent,
9 Uche Dibiamaka - Elite level athlete, able to use athleticsm and strength to score the ball, especially in transition. Working hard to keep developing all aspects of game. Will get lots of opportunities and interest in coming year as he continues to develop. Will not sneak under the radar as he heads to US High School to play basketball and complete his High School from August.
TEAM RED - winners of the tournament. Interestingly had the most South Aussies of any team.
Tim Mallon (Coach),
3 Sam Short,
17 Brent Hank, - Ability to clog key way in defence and change shots, moves well in defense for size. Sets great screens on and off ball for team mates and able to pick and pop knocking down the midrange shot, or get to rim. Continues to be on lots of radars because of how he plays hard, team basketball.
10 Tre Armstrong,
13 Kuany Kuany,
11 Owen Hulland - A bit tentative offensively first couple of games but got better and better and this improvement will continue with Owen, with a huge upside to go. Continues to be a major rim protector against bigger and more athletic players. Massive rebound haul in final game. Definately continued to show he should be on high major charts with length, versatility in defense and shooting range. Will continue to advance A LOT whilst based at COE.
2 Isaac White, - Continues to dominate at physical aspects of game in defence and great at getting to rim against the big timber. Shot the ball well throughout, leading all scorers. In final game had a big 31 point haul. According to an article on FOX Sports was one of the most impressive performers at the combine: http://www.foxsports.com.au/basketball/ncaa-coaches-flock-to-ais-to-recruit-australias-top-junior-prospects/news-story/1a91b93e6e7b627ece17d4658eeafc7c
12 Adam Lulka,
Daniel Jackson (Coach)
Paul Lankford (Coach),
4 Jack Petruccelle,
3 Tom Fullarton,
14 Myles Cherry,
11 Sasa Gazibegovic,
13 Mate Colina,
2 Sean Macdonald,
12 Matthew Johns,
David Spear (Coach)
Markus Klusemann (Coach),
2 Alex Mudronja, - in my view is one of the best guards at this age I have ever seen. Based at the COE will only get better. Showed great strength on the rim and much better athleticsm than a few months ago, during U18 nationals when coming back from injury. Playing out of onballs, drawing contact and scoring on bigs with great strength and body control, or finding a great pass is VERY good. Thanks to work with National Shooting Coach Brad Davidson, and his own hard work, as rapidly improved shooting range consistency recently which is fantastic to see.
15 Thomas Pupavac,
5 Jaydon Beveridge ,
3 Bailey Griffiths,
10 Jacob Rigoni, - also showed great ability to score the ball from all areas of the floor in transition, from mid range, out to 3 pt line, on all sized players, with body contact. Very impressive throughout, in the top 3 scorers in most games for team yellow. Continued to show ability to play smart defense and manage to keep smaller faster players in front of him on the perimeter and toughness and strength to defend bigger players in the post. Rebounded the ball well and was a key contributor for team yellow.
18 Callum Dalton,
4 Dragan Elkaz,
6 Isaiah Richardson,
Andrew Jantke (Coach)
Some of the schools reported to be there included:
U of Utah
Oregon State University
U of Portland
University of Albany
University of North Dakota
Old Dominion University
University of Hawaii