Making the leap from Junior Rep basketball to Senior Rep is not as simple as just “turning up”! There are many factors to consider which include the commitment from the player (as well as their family) and the expectation of the coach to fulfil a role.
The NE Bushrangers trio of Charlie Young, Sam Maher and Brodie Paul have taken that challenge this year, stepping into development roles within the Big V North East Bushrangers Men’s team. While still juggling their final years of secondary college, junior rep and VJBL commitments for Wangaratta, these young men also manage their commitment to other sporting pursuits and casual work.
As they will all tell you, sometimes, you just have to miss one thing because you have too much going on, and quite often it is the senior commitment that suffers due to travel and time constraints. Charlie shared that, “Sometimes this involves doing homework on the bus to and from games.”
Between the three, and at just 17 years of age, they already have a long string of basketball accomplishments, having represented their association in the Victorian Jamboree, Basketball Academy, Golden Nugget Camp, NITP, Southern Cross Challenge, Country Cup, NZ Tour, Youth tours overseas, State team selection, VJBL, CBL and now Big V.
While in development roles, the expectation for each of them at trainings and on the court is nothing less than what is expected for the more experienced players. They have a role to fill, a job to be done, and are guided by Coach Annett and player mentors, Sartori, Hockley and the Wright brothers. Sam appreciates the regular “giving of feedback and advice on how to get better and what I should do in situations” to help integrate him into the playing group.
Sometimes their on-court stint is for a short burst to give someone a break, at other times it’s because they need to ‘do their thing’ and fill a void on the court. It’s difficult to ‘come off the bench’ late in the game when your body has cooled down, but you must be ready and take every opportunity that comes your way, it’s ‘that’ opportunity that will ultimately lead to the next!
Charlie mentioned that, “It’s been a huge learning process and really has taught me what my strengths are and what I need to put work into to improve to be an all-round player. Trainings are a lot more intense, going against the experienced players every training has made me a better player.” He added, “It’s a very professional environment unlike junior VJBL or rep and I love being around the older guys and trying to learn as much as possible off them.”
Taking the next step on from his 12 months in the Bushies development program, Sam reflects on how that has prepared him for playing in this State level competition, “I have learned to be able to score the ball, create for my teammates and defend bigger and more skilled players both at training and in games when given the opportunity.” He hasn’t been daunted by the leap to seniors and “would definitely encourage aspiring VJBLl/rep players to take the opportunity and challenge themselves to play, as I think it’s important and beneficial for them to start developing these skills at a younger age and to be around an older and more experienced basketball atmosphere is great to experience from a player's perspective.”
All three players have represented Wangaratta Basketball Inc for their entire junior rep years, climbing into the CBL Senior Rep program in recent years and have bright basketball futures ahead of them. And having now seen out much of the Big V 2021 season, Brodie feels that his key take-away from the program is that “you learn to be patient”, our offensive plays have a full 24-seconds in which to be executed, and sometimes the first option is not always the best! That’s a big learning curve for young players but he enjoys “playing the sport I love with a group of amazing and talented athletes” who guide him every step of the way.
Aspiring to head into the USA College system in the near future is high priority for these guys, which may lead to a more realist representation in the NBL and ultimately playing for Australia. Without question, they are all striving to make basketball a professional career, and there’s no doubt that a stint in the NE Bushrangers State League program will be a stepping stone in their development pathway, we wish them luck!
Big V returns to the courts this weekend after Lockdown-5.0 and our teams will be heading to RMIT for a double header on Saturday, followed by a home game for our Men vs Pakenham on Sunday. Unfortunately, for this return to sport, and for the next two weeks, no spectators are permitted.