Two weeks ago, up in Townsville Australia, I coached another U18 National Championships. It is important we come back and reflect, seek out improvement and do some analysis. One of the things I have been doing is thinking about the level of talent in Australia I have worked with and coached against over the years that I have been coaching at the championships. I began to do some analysis and debate with some colleagues on the most talent in an U18 National Championships. As we continued the conversation and I did some more research and analysis I decided I had to blog on this subject; the greatest collective talent at U18 Australian National Champs in history.
The subject for the blog is Australia's most talented national championships and in blogging on this subject I hope readers can get a better understanding on what the championships produces, the talent that comes through our nation's pathways and the world class development we can provide our athletes here in Australia. In my opinion most don't always appreciate upcoming talent when they see it at the time until they see these men at the other end of their journey. I hope by looking back a few years you can appreciate the great opportunity of competing in, and talent you compete against at Australia's National U18 Championships.
About Australian National Championships
Other than commenting on the most talented championships I also wanted to post a high quality, educational and informational blog on national championships, a proven ground for producing elite, international talent over many, many years. U18 National Champs have been packed with talent over the past decade, and beyond (see the discussion below about 2004), but 2012 was special. The 2012 U18 National Championships are the focus of this blog.
National Championships are the major competitive pathway in Australia for elite, young prospects. They take place in February (U20s), April (U18s) and July (U16s).
Each state across Australia picks its best players to compete in the championships, to represent their state.
US Coaches that have traveled out to watch the championships understand this is NO AAU basketball, no High School basketball (due to the structures and systems) and you would struggle to find similar type of competition in basketball across the United States.
Players are talent ID'd from a young age. They still need to go through an exhaustive and selective trials process in order to make a state team, trials that see the best talent in the state pitted against each other for many sessions until the team is finally selected. In the tournaments players play to win, individual exposure takes a distant second and players recognise their best path to individual success is to help their team succeed. Likewise coaches are measured on success and development. All coaches are accountable to their state High Performance Manager, ensuring quality control, measurement of performance and accountability. In a national championships teamwork, chemistry, basketball IQ, attitude, coachabilty are often placed a premium above inherent talent - coaches want to win but also develop talent, in the RIGHT way.
What does this mean for college coaches recruiting?
In order to recruit the best talent from Australia, have the best insights on talent it is important to understand the pathways and systems in Australian basketball. I am sometimes asked about kids that have dropped 30 pts in a High School game, for example, against substandard competition, but those same kids barely hit the court in a national championship, because they are not good enough. I always tell coaches to take a balanced view but they NEED to definately consider performances at national championships to understand where the kids they are recruiting are at in terms of potential level.
Defining what "greatest collective talent" means
Here, in the context of this blog, I am defining talent as guys that went on with it, playing at higher levels. It is highly possible that the best collective talent in the whole history of U18 National Championships was infact in the past 10 or so years (our talent in Australia is generally considered at an all time high over the past decade) so 2012 may well possibly be the greatest amount of talent ever in history of the championships.
The recent year's 2016 or 2017 national championships will take a few years for us to see where those kids end up, but I personally felt that 2017 had a lot of top end talent that could rival what we had in 2012.