By Brent Hank | From Pt Lincoln to New York
Preface by Janx….
Brent and I often joke whenever we happen to bump into each other at Pasadena stadium (in Adelaide, South Australia) about when we first met - I point at the spot near the stairs going onto court 2 where I first shook his and his parent’s hands and proceeded to have a long chat about his basketball future and I tell him “that spot is where it all started for you”, he laughs, probably because it is not necessarily true. However, it is certainly those kinds of moments that you look back on later, that ended up being a pivotal moment for kids like Brent, his family and in this case the Central Districts Lions program.
Pictured: Brent concentrating on his free throws for SA Country. It was soon after this pic was taken that that Pasadena meeting took place.
Ironically Brent, his parents and I met at that same spot about 3 yrs later to review his goals and plans for the future and he came up with this plan for the coming years.
Pictured: Brent’s goals. 3 years later that after these were written Brent can be proud so far that he has achieved most of his goals. Still so much more to do though!!!
Players like Brent Hank traditionally drove past fledgling minot (at that time), Centrals Districts Lions, on their way to an inner city club. I was lucky to be the Director of Coaching, with a great team involved helping, during the club’s phenomenal growth and development phase and in that role we initially snagged Brent Hank as a 13 year old fly in/out player, and later on managed to get him to attend Trinity College, relocating himself to the local area (7 hrs drive away from his family home). Recruiting Brent to the community of Gawler was a great team and community effort and I’m proud that this kind of thing has been replicated a number of times since with some great prospects. I also later got to actually coach him in U16s when he was a bottomager (as their Assistant Coach) and again as a topager as his Head Coach, then again at East Coast Challenge in U18s with our Elite NITP squad. Of course through our ongoing relationship over the years he was always going to be listed as a featured athlete on www.highperformancehoopsnetwork.com
Video: Brent’s highlight clip from U20 National Championships where he featured in SA’s Gold Medal campaign.
Brent committed to University of Albany from the America East Conference late last year. University of Albany has an amazing reputation in the state of South Australia off the back of all their successes in the America East Conference, and of course with our cities’ own Peter Hooley being such a big part of the program there. On a personal level it is a great to see that massive commitment that myself and others convinced Brent and his family to make all those years ago payoff, thanks in part to the great community at Central Districts and Trinity College.
I’ve asked Brent to write a blog on his pathway from SA Country player, living in Pt Lincoln, to flying and out to play metro basketball each week, converting to the SA Metro program, playing AAU basketball in the USA, through to committing to the University of Albany.
Pictured: Brent recently committed to U of Albany a school that has had great success with Aussie talent involved and heavily utilised.
I hope his story inspires future SA Country kids, infact all regionally based kids in Australia, their families, to make a similar commitment to their basketball development.
Over to Brent….
Family and friends thought we were crazy. Mum move to Adelaide with my sister Hannah and I for basketball when I was only going into year 8 and Hannah year 6. Rent out the family home in Port Lincoln so we could live in Gawler, dad live in our oyster work shed at Coffin Bay and commute to Adelaide to visit with us. It does sound crazy.
Pictured: Brent playing for Pt Lincoln Basketball Association. Centrals has formed a close link to Pt Lincoln basketball in recent years. This really initially came off the back of the hard work of former Pt Lincoln Coach, Shona McKeen. There are some great players that have now followed in Brent’s footsteps joining Centrals out of Pt Lincoln, moving to the Gawler area.
Five years ago after a year of commuting from Port Lincoln to Central District basketball club in Gawler, sharing the traveling load with 3 other families we made the decision to either commit 100%, move and truly have a crack at elite basketball or stop.
Five years on and I am truly glad we pursued this journey. Don’t get me wrong it was hard at times, but now only months from heading off to the USA to the University at Albany there are no regrets. As a family we gave it everything we had, worked hard, committed, supported each other and it paid off. Hannah and I have appreciated from the very start the huge sacrifice our parents were making for us and we never wasted a moment of it.
I would like to say it was easy but the reality is that at times it wasn’t, everything in life does not always go to plan. However, lots of great things happened, I made every state team from top age U16’s and played at the national level 5 times for South Australia. I was also lucky enough to be selected as one of three South Australian players to travel to New Zealand in the inaugural U16 combined SA, NSW and TAS team who won gold in the Pacific Easter Classic. I enjoyed my new school Trinity College at Gawler and the closeness to the Central District Basketball Club. I was included in the National Intensive Training Program (NITP), played division 1 basketball for Central Districts and played for my school basketball team. Good things did happen for me.
Pictured: Brent playing for Central Districts Lions. Centrals has been on a boom and Brent has been a big part of this period. Of all our district clubs in South Australia Centrals is only surpassed by the Sturt Sabres in terms of the production of Div 1 NCAA talent out of the state of South Australia.
We missed home though and visits home were rare as lots of school holidays involved basketball trainings, camps or team trips away. After mum had been in Adelaide for 3 years the difficult decision was made for her to go home and help dad on the oyster farm. Hannah and I wanted to continue pursuing our dreams but were torn between wanting to go home to be with mum and dad. With the help and encouragement of Ricky Simpson (ed: from STARplex where Brent’s club was based) and Nick Hately (ed: Head of Trinity College where Brent attended school) we found a solution for Hannah and I to homestay with a family close to the school and continue on our journey. When you hear the term "raised by a village" that has been the case of the past couple of years. If it wasn’t for the greater communities of the Trinity College and Central District Basketball club we could not have managed this as a family. Help and support from many families and friends made it possible, especially my auntie Gudi. The ongoing belief in me from my support coaches, Ricky Simpson, Peter Berry, and Shona McKeen and under the watchful eye of Andrew Jantke kept me motivated to move forward. Help from interstate in coach Luke Sunderland and AUSA Hoops encouraged me on.
Pictured: Brent played High School basketball for Trinity College when he moved to Adelaide. The best resourced and one of the most successful basketball schools in South Australia. Also in the picture is former www.highperformancehoopsnetwork.com blogger Jye Watson who is the Head Coach of the Trinity College Open A team.
The Australian level seemed out of reach. I hadn’t made an Australian Camp, squad or team. My first cousin on Dad’s side of the family attended the AIS as a volley ball scholarship holder. He travelled the world representing Australia as a junior. As he was very tall and athletic, I thought it could be a possibility for me. The year mum left Adelaide wasn’t easy and it was around this time in year 11 that college recruiting began. I had graduated from NITP and wondered what was next. I made a decision that college was my next step in my journey. So here I was on the other side of the world with a growing realisation that a lot of coaches in the USA saw the potential in me as a player. This certainly helped me focus on school, making that a priority to get the grades I needed to attend a Division 1 college. As the recruiting period continued on the rest is history, one school stood out from the crowd, University at Albany. First to contact, first to phone me and the first to make it clear to me that I was their priority. We did not rush and we talked and communicated with numerous other colleges. But when the time was right and I was clear in my mind about Albany I gave them my commitment.
Shortly after this out of the blue I was named to the U19 Australian Emu basketball squad. After never having been involved with Australian level basketball I get the call up for the squad. Trials for the U18 Oceania Emus team to play in Fiji in Dec 2016 was a long process. I made it to the last camp at the AIS and was cut from the team 4 days before they left for Fiji. Disappointing, but part of my journey. I really enjoyed my time with the Basketball Centre of Excellence players and the Emus squad.
Year 12 and school was finally done and I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to spend some time training with the Adelaide 36ers, what an experience. To be around Joey Wright, Kevin Brooks and train with some outstanding talent was inspirational. This all helped me get on track for my last South Australian representative team to play for U20’s in Bendigo, Victoria in February 2017. As a team we came together to go for gold at the Australian Championships and gold we got. We sacrificed for each other and the greater good of the team and it paid off. Fantastic finish to my South Australian basketball journey and I am super excited for what comes next at UAlbany.
Pictured: Brent after winning the U20 National Championships in Bendigo in 2017. Making history along with his team mates. A great way to finish a stellar rise in the sport in the state of South Australia before he heads over to Albany.
Pictured: Brent with his parents, Chris and Linda. This family, like other regionally based families, made a massive commitment for the basketball and education development of their children. It seems it was ALL worth it.