Two star local basketballers have been selected in the North East Bushrangers Development Squad to play in America in December.
Reigning domestic and representative best and fairest for Under 16s and Under 18s, Sam Mickelson, and runner-up to Sam in both grades and competitions, Alex Byrne, will fly out of Australia on December 2 for the 19-day trip.
Domestic and rep. coach Brett Harvey, who was actively involved in the establishment with Wangaratta representatives two years ago of the north east development squad, was thrilled of the local pair’s selection.
“Sam has always had the talent and now has a bit more direction. Alex has developed into a good player later in his junior career. Both are really good kids,” the coach, who played Premier League Basketball with Big V for five years before a bad injury, told the Yarrawonga Chronicle.
North East will consist of two teams and 20 players, ages 16 to 18-years, and will play eight games then a weekend tournament. The program includes Texas, Carolina and California.
“They will play local high school teams of roughly the same level,” Brett said. “I think the whole set up and selection of Sam and Alex is amazing. It shows the selectors have chosen the best of the best for the squad.”
Sam mainly plays guard. Alex is in the centre. Domestic president of the Yarrawonga Mulwala Junior Basketball Association Dave Woodburn also spoke in glowing terms about our two most talented local young basketballers.
“Sam has raw talent, silky skills, plays basically any position on the court, great under the ring and throws them in from any three-point territory; has the ability to win a game single-handedly, very athletic and a gifted sportsman,” the president said.
“Alex is a very hard worker. His improvement over the last two to three years has been great. He’s a great rebounder, team player and respected player in both domestic and rep circles; a tireless worker whose improvement is reaping the rewards.”
Sam, who turns 16-years-of-age in August and began playing basketball at “seven or eight” years old, described the trip as “exciting”. “I’m looking forward to it. It will be great experience,” the Year 10 student at Yarrawonga’s Sacred Heart College said.
Sixteen year old Alex is in Year 10 at Sacred Heart Cathedral Wangaratta, started in the sport at age “12 or 13” and is also naturally looking forward to the trip. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play basketball in the States,” he said.
Mr Woodburn said Brett Harvey’s contribution to the further development and promotion of local basketballers has been enormous, initially with the rebirth of the rep competition then the north east development squad.
“I didn’t want to see us losing kids to other parts of the state who have this type of set up,” Brett, 41, explained. I’m envious of them (Sam and Alex)! I actually went to the USA in 1993 on a similar tour (with Blackburn Vikings).
“It’s the start of what we can achieve. It can be a very good stepping stone.” Sam and Alex could be the start of more big news from Yarrawonga Mulwala Junior Basketball Association.