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By Jarryd Hoppo | My journey, striving to represent South Australia at National Championships and be

Preface by Janx.....

VIDEO: Hoppo Dunk number 1, now we warmin' up!

VIDEO: Hoppo Dunk number 2, gettin nasty.

For Representative, District and Peak basketball bodies, and all the participants involved, your athletes that emerge into elite, youth talent are maybe your best ambassadors in the modern, global game. They show other juniors that you can become successful from within your club, giving a great path for all to follow, that kids can relate to. If these kids, like Hoppo hopefully does, go on to play in the high profile division 1 NCAA, especially high major programs, maybe even the NBA, Europe and the NBL, they also indirectly showcase their clubs, their schools and peak sporting bodies, like Basketball SA, to the world, and should be a great source of pride for all of us in the basketball community.

Given the outcomes that successful juniors bring to the sport it is important we all back them in their endeavours as much as we can. I know South Adelaide has supported Jarryd, but we all have the opportunity to get behind Jarryd to support him too.

Daniel Carlin (past blog by Daniel here) did it for Centrals by showing that juniors from there could make it into National programs and when he did that the club boomed. Isaac White (2017 Stanford Commit), Jacob Rigoni (2017 Quinnipiac Commit) and Lat Mayen (2017 TCU Commit) have done it for Sturt, and now more broadly, Basketball SA, including Central Districts player Brent Hank (2017 University at Albany commit), showing the path into elite college basketball for players in their clubs, and beyond, to levels not seen in the same year in South Australia before (South Australians in the NCAA.. preseason tracker & the case for them to be March Madness bound).

The Free Throw Foundation is an organisation that addresses this need for support of our youth talent in a fantastic way. Bringing in great guest speakers and bringing some of the legends of South Australian basketball together, along with the rest of the community, it provides a link between the past and today's upcoming talent. A great initiative that I hope everyone supports in one way or another. I’ve seen the outcomes of their work first hand and it is GREATLY appreciated by all that have seen their work.

At we love sharing the journeys of talented youth athletes from club level, through to international level and hope that their stories inspire, excite and educate future talent coming through. Jarryd has taken the time to provide us all with a great read on his journey that many kids will be able to hopefully be inspired and get excited by, following his journey.

As such we hope that their clubs, club members, supporters across South Australia and Australia, get behind their efforts with pride and excitement for their journey but also the wider basketball community that might be able to relate the challenges of being an elite junior athlete in Australia.

Jarryd Hoppo is a class act when it comes to basketball ethics. Like many kids in South Australia doing well lately he has come on late. He did not play U16 SA Metro at all and had hardly played division 1 basketball until U18s. Suddenly as an U18 bottomager he is thrown into the deep end and playing in one of the more talented U18 state teams we have have seen. As a topager he was elected Team Captain, an indication of his standing amongst team mates and coaches. His loyalty to the South Adelaide Panthers has been phenomenal. He can play at any club, at any level in South Australia, but he has stuck with his South Adelaide, wanting to be one of those guys that come through a program that puts so much into them and makes that whole club and program proud. He is a down to earth, happy go lucky kind of kid but with talent, God given physical attributes and work ethic to become a key member of South Australia’s recent crop of elite prospects.

PICTURED: 2016 U18 SA Metro, Jarryd's first state team was packed with talent. This team includes Back - Koen Sapwell (2017 Commit California State University Monterey Bay), Biar Garang (attending Lincoln Academy Prep School in Georgia, USA) , Alex Mudronja (CoE Scholarship holder), Uche Dibiamaka (2018 University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Commit), Lachlan Haufe (West Adelaide Bearcats Premier League Champion)

Front - Jimma Dau (Central Districts Lions), Ben Carter (Australian National Team U18 FIBA Oceania Championships), Owen Hulland (2018 University of Hawaii Commit, CoE Scholarship Holder), Hoppo, Ray Harding (2017 Northern Iowa Area Community College Commit)

His Mum has setup a project which includes more information why they need our help. For anyone that wants to help Jarryd you can donate directly to that campaign. I know any help you can give would be greatly appreciated at this challenging time by the family and you can be rest assured that Jarryd will represent South Adelaide, Basketball SA and hopefully (one day) Basketball Australia with pride and be a great ambassador for our basketball community. Here is the link to donate:

Over to Hoppo......

How did you get into basketball?

I played football from the age of 5 and tennis from the age of 8. I started playing basketball for school when I was in Grade 5 at age 11 but couldn’t fit district basketball into my schedule while I was playing football and tennis. I played one year of Under 14 footy and found that I wasn’t really enjoying it. This gave me the opportunity to try out for the South Adelaide basketball club as a first year Under 16 because a friend of mine played there. That was four years ago.

Tell us about your journey so far?

When I first joined South Adelaide in 2013 I started in an Under 16 Div 3 team. I had a great coach Brett Home who really helped with the development of my game. There was so much to learn!

The next season I moved up to the Under 16 Div 1 team and have been in Div 1 since then.

Towards the end of my second season I was invited out to join the NITP program. This was a fantastic program and gave me my first look at programs for elite basketballers and helped me develop even more. I stayed in the program for about 15 months moving from the emerging squad to the elite squad in this time. Also during this time I was playing Under 18 Div 1 basketball and made the U18 SA Metro State team as a first year player. I didn’t play many minutes but the belief that Janx had in me to select me to be part of that team helped me believe in myself as an elite basketballer. It was also a huge learning curve to be part of a state team and learning all of the plays involved in the lead up to the tournament and then during the tournament all of the preparation that went into each game both in terms of scouting but also for the players with what we ate, our pre- and post-game preparation even down to how much rest we had.

From here I went on to make the Under 18 SA Metro team as a second year player. This was another big step in my development and from here I gained some invaluable direction from Janx and David Ingham. David also helped me to move on from NITP and train with South Adelaide’s Premier League. I made my Premier League debut at the age of 16 in May 2017 and went on to average just over 20 minutes a game for the season and had a great experience. I was also featured in a Hang Time article about rookies in the league. Since the end of the Premier League season and the finish of my Junior basketball in September, I tried out and made the U20 South Australian State Team as a first year player. I was also invited out during the October school holidays to train with the Adelaide 36ers. This was a huge honour and a great experience. I hope to continue training with the 36ers in the December/January school holidays. I am also looking forward to training with the U20 state team prior to the Nationals in February next year.

PICTURED: Young Panther Hoppo, centre back.

How do you improve? What is your workload generally?

Basketball motivates and drives me to get better. It is my main focus. I improve by constantly developing my skills. I train twice a week currently with the South Adelaide Premier League Reserves team and play once a week.

Janx and David Ingham told me in the meeting that I had with them that I needed to get stronger to compete at an elite level. Since then I have been working hard on this. I started my journey in this area with a personal trainer Brett Home who was also my first coach and he put me onto a physio that worked with me on what muscles I needed to develop and gave me specific exercises to do over a 12 month period. During this time I worked with Brett to do specific exercises to develop these muscles. Jamie Phillips (Past blog by Jamie: Using an ‘evidence based approach’ to help build long and healthy careers for elite basketball players and success for teams and organisations!) also helped me initially to recognise which muscles were weaker and how to develop these. I tore the ligaments in my ankle pretty badly at training about a year ago and needed to do a lot of rehab to get my ankles stronger. Once my muscles had been developed so that they can be engaged during exercise, I was able to make big inroads in my gym program.

I have also been helped in my journey to get stronger by Taylor Renshaw (past blog by Taylor: Strength and Conditioning Development for an elite junior basketballer) and when I decided to set up my own home gym to keep the costs to my parents down and also make accessing gym equipment more convenient, saving me time, Taylor helped me set it all up. His philosophies and programs for developing muscles have been invaluable to me in setting my own gym program that I do three times a week on the days I am not training or playing. I also get shots up whenever I can and this includes every lunch time at school as well as before and after school.

Like a lot of our top prospects out of South Australia recently, you missed out on some state teams (EG: U16s top age) all together, talk us through what happened there?

As I was raw to the process of State trials, I wasn’t very confident in myself and didn’t think I was good enough. I went to other, less important plans instead as I wasn’t sure what was required. It wasn’t until after that I realised that I truly wanted this. I worked hard and made sure that I was ready to compete when the Under 18 trials commenced.

How did South Adelaide contribute to your development and were there any key people involved?

The basketball community is like a family to me and I couldn’t have achieved what I have so far if it wasn’t for everyone on my journey contributing something to my development. South Adelaide in particular have been behind my journey in a big way and for that I am extremely grateful. I have had great coaches and the Club has supported me greatly to help raise the funds I need to pay for State trips by letting me fundraise at the Club and at Club functions.

From the time I joined the Club each of my coaches has helped me. Each coach has built on what I have learnt from the previous coach and helped me develop as I have moved through Junior’s and onto Premier League. Each one has also believed in me and pushed me to the best of my abilities. And I am so very thankful to all of them for their support and their belief in me.

The biggest impact on my basketball at South was when I went up to Under 16 Division 1 in my second year, having played in Under 16 Division 3 in my first year with the Club. The intensity and game speed was a lot quicker and having a shot clock meant you had a lot less time to make a decision. This all helped me to get quicker, make quicker decisions and develop my basketball IQ.

PICTURED: Hoppo's club, South Adelaide, is one of the state's oldest clubs, around since 1952, with a long history of success at State League (also called Premier League) level. Also one of the largest junior clubs in South Australia.

What are your strengths as a player?

I believe that I am a very coachable person and I am also a team player that is all about team success with a team first mentality. I am a very long, athletic, agile player and can play multiple positions. I am a good rebounder that can run the floor and find a good option in transition.

PICTURED: Hoppo's strengths are his length and athleticism. He has a great work ethic (one of the key thigs we look closely at before featuring an athlete at with an expanding, versatile skillset.

What are the main challenges in your game you feel you need to overcome?

My main challenge is to get stronger. Being 6’8’ and still growing at 17 as well as being very active I find it hard to put on weight. I need to eat more calories and continue working out in the gym. On the court my main challenge is to shoot the ball at a consistent rate and stretch the floor to help my team mates. Being stronger will also help me finish at the rim with contact.

What are your goals over the next 12 months?

In the next 12 months I aim to win gold at the U20 Nationals as well as train with the 36ers and continue to grow in the Premier League.

What are your longer term goals?

In the longer term I aim to get a scholarship in America and would love to turn a dream a mine into a career and become the best player I can.

What do you hope to achieve through as a featured athlete?

I first met Janx at NITP when I was invited to train in this program towards the end of 2015. Then I was selected to play in the U18 SA Metro team as a first year player with Janx as the head coach. He has supported my development since our first meeting. David Ingham has also been a great support to me and earlier this year both Janx and David Ingham had a meeting with my parents and myself and gave me some great advice to help guide me in my development. This advice has been invaluable to me and helped keep me focussed on what I need to do to develop my game. Janx also gave me the invaluable opportunity to become a featured athlete on his website. The next step in my journey is to try and get a scholarship to a College in the US. Janx has provided invaluable mentoring and support in this process which can be daunting when you have never been down this path before. His knowledge and expertise in this area, his connections to US coaches as well as his knowledge of the game are second to none in South Australia. The fact other athletes featured on his site having all gone on to Div 1 Colleges gives me great hope for the future. Isaac White, also featured on the high performance hoops network, has also been a great mentor to me and helped me to understand the process required to be an elite basketballer.

What are your thoughts on the current volume of division 1 talent coming out of South Australia? What does this mean for you and other upcomers?

The amount of talent that is coming out of SA has put a spotlight on basketball in this state. It’s good to be able to talk to players like Isaac White who recently went to Stanford about his experiences. Being able to train with such an elite group of players on a consistent basis helps me develop my game.

PICTURED: These men who have committed to MAAC, Big 12 and Pac 12 conference schools, are part of a recent boom in talent out of South Australia and provide something for younger talented, kids like Hoppo to follow.

What would you advise young kids coming through hoping to play for their state? What lessons have you learned playing in national championships?

If there is something I would always advise young people is that you should believe in yourself. This is something that hurt me early on in my basketball career. Don’t try and be a player that you are not. Train your weaknesses but don’t forget your strengths because ultimately you are the player that you are because of those strengths.

Through Nationals I learnt that there is so much more that goes into a basketball game than just going out onto the court and playing. Scouting opponents was not something I had been exposed to prior to Nationals and neither was all of the pre- and post- game preparations. Having the ability to have team stats that you could set goals for in a game was also new to me and gave me some insight into all of the 1 percenters that make a bigger difference than you might think.

In the gofundme project to help raise funds for your journey to U20s it mentions your father's job situation and health, how has that affected you? How are you dealing with this?

These are all things that motivate me more to succeed. It is something that drives me to become a better player because my Dad has always been that person that I looked up to in my life and I want him to always be beside me in my journey.

PICTURED: Hoppo and his family.

What do you hope to achieve at U20 National Championships?

I hope to achieve the ultimate success and leave nothing on the court. I hope to do the best that I can do to help the team. I look forward to playing with some of the team mates that I played with two years ago and go up against some of Australia’s best players.

Why should people support you to attend U20 National Championships?

This is a hard question as I am not good at selling myself. I hope that people would support me because I try and give back to the basketball community through umpiring and coaching. A lot of people around the club and at other clubs know me and when I walk into any basketball stadium but particularly the Marion basketball stadium, I try and interact with people particularly the younger kids and I hope that people would like that and see me as good person trying to do my best in the sport.

How can people support you on your journey?

Many people have supported me so far on my basketball journey and for that I am really appreciative. People can donate to my Go Fund Me page “Get Hoppo to U20 Nationals” or on Saturday November 25 I am having a fundraising sausage sizzle at the Marion Basketball Stadium so people can come along on the day and buy a sausage and support me. To everyone who has donated so far I say a huge thankyou. Already it has been a great support to my family to get me to the National Championships to represent South Australia with pride.

PICTURED: Hoppo at U18 National Championships. Townsville. April 2017

VIDEO: Hoppo's highlights. Thanks for reading everyone.

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