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By Andrew Jantke | Behind the curtain to the amazing benefits for athletes and educational institutions in the United States with a stronger integration approach. Why can't it work in Australia?

March 28, 2018

About this blog article


This blog article provides a discourse on stronger integration between educational institutions and sporting pathways (specifically basketball).  We do this by highlighting: 

  • What Coach Janx observed on a recent tour to the United States

  • What is in it for athlete development with better integration between sporting pathways and educational institutions

  • Likewise what is in it for the educational institutions with an improved integration paradigm.

  • How this could also be applied to Australian High Schools using examples and real life experiences.


This is a great read for anyone involved with educational institutions, working in Australia's high performance system at any level, from Aussie Hoops through to National teams, be it as a volunteer or a paid capacity, also gives youth athletes and parents excellent insights into the opportunity and benefits to becoming a high level student-athlete in the United States.


We hope the discourse below generates discussion and helps continue to align various stakeholders that are interested in the holistic development of elite, youth basketball talent.


In short we urge all stakeholders in athlete development be it high performance managers, educational institutions, coaches, players, parents and other supporters to think REALLY BIG, and together, when it comes to developing our sport in our country.  Is this thought process missing now?  If it is that pattern should not dictate future thought processes.  THINK BIG!  Our main stakeholders, the youth athletes certainly do and our thinking should not be what holds them back.  


The study tour


I recently headed over to the United States on a personal basketball pilgrimage.  Primarily it was to see featured athlete Isaac White (Class of 2017 Stanford Freshman) really get into the big games, kicking off his collegiate career.  This included Isaac participating in the biggest ever preseason tournament in the history of college sports.  A solid feat for the skilled, tough, smart guard, "with some moxy", who had won and dominated Aussie U20 National Championships and National Schools championships, Premier League and club basketball, from the Sturt Sabres of South Australia.


 VIDEO: The PK80.  The most powerful collection of teams in College basketball ever at one event.


Whilst in the region I  also wanted to really peel back the curtain on college basketball, meet the coaches, see their practices, deep dive into checking out the facilities and catch some games.  Many of these coaches have been out here to Australia see us, recruit South Aussie kids, checkout our programs, including meeting people such as SA High Performance Director David Ingham, Sturt Director of Coaching Scott Butler.  Many also attended the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence combine, held in July 2016, to checkout South Australian athletes (Blog article on the combine here: Basketball Australia's College Prospects Combine).  I wanted to return the favor by seeing them in their program, meet with them again, checkout their practice.  


Through this journey I was constantly thinking about something that I’ve always wondered –

Why can’t Australian basketball clubs, associations and high performance programs, work with educational institutions at all levels, to operate in an integrated fashion as it does in the United States? 


I became envious at the level of resources and support division 1 colleges can extend to athletes.  I am not necessarily saying the exact American model will ever be applied here.  What I am saying is that if the United States is one end of the extreme of integrating elite, youth sports pathways and educational institutions together, and the case for that extreme is presented in our Australian context, then hopefully educational and basketball leaders in this country will begin to consider which parts of the American system we should be implementing within Australia.  We have been gradually moving to that integration in pockets in Australia over the years, but there is much more scope for stronger, more formal integration, and I hope this article will help secondary, tertiary education leaders and those working as leaders in our nation's sporting pathways to consider the potential.


During 2 and a bit weeks on this tour I saw 12 games of basketball, 10 division 1 college games and 2 Utah Jazz, NBA games.  The college games included Stanford playing the powerhouse programs like North Carolina Tarheels, Florida Gators, Ohio State Buckeyes.  I saw the Aussie dominated mid-major power school of St Marys (where featured athlete Alex Mudronja has committed for the 2018/19 season) play San Jose State.  The massive, rivalry game of Utah Valley vs BYU.  The new home of NBL great John Rillie's rapidly rising UCSB play University of San Diego and more.  Front row seats were the norm, behind the team benches, having the opportunity to see the action up close also being afforded the opportunity of interacting heavily with coaching staff pre and post games.


I also sat in on 10 team practices.  These were all division 1 programs from the Pac12, ACC, West Coast Conference, Big West conferences.  This included seeing coaches from mid majors that heavily recruit Australia.  The high majors included household names in basketball circles like Stanford Cardinal, Utah Utes, Oregon Ducks, North Carolina Tarheels.   On these visits I normally had a "back stage" pass to sealed practices, tour facilities, meet the staff and players and often to sit in on video sessions.


I also had a range of me