Depth of local talent unveiled

Casey Cavaliers young gun Brian Venegesayi shows off his impressive shooting form.

By Lance Jenkinson

The depth of young talent in the Casey, Dandenong and Pakenham regions has been revealed with the unveiling of the Basketball Victoria’s State Development Program lists.

A jaw-dropping number of rising stars from the three associations impressed in tryouts and earned their places in the elite state program.

Basketball Victoria basketball operations manager Grant Wallace said the tryouts showcased athletes who were dedicated to the sport, committed to get better at their craft and will fit in nicely in an elite training environment.

“It’s always wonderful to see the talent at these tryouts and picture the heights many of these athletes may reach,“ Wallace said.

“The SDP is all about developing their skills and improving their basketball knowledge in a challenging and enjoyable environment.“

There was a “considerable depth of talent“ on the girls side, according to Wallace.

Jenni Screen, a girls high performance head coach, understands the importance of the high performance pathway, having made it all the way to the top to play with the Australian Opals.

“Every opportunity to work on your game, mentally and physically, is a gift and I am very much looking forward to working with these athletes throughout the year,“ Screen said.

Zoe Carr, girls high performance head coach, said the selection of players in elite programs is a credit to the grassroots system and family support network.

“We have some outstanding athletes and I was incredibly impressed with the level of fitness and skill that everyone at trials displayed,” Carr said.

“It is a credit to the athletes, their parents and their home associations for preparing them.

“I can’t wait for the program to begin in February.“

Casey’s Katelyn Field, Tatum Bolton, Leah Cornell, Emilija Dakic, Victoria Meredith, Samantha Miller-Randle, Manaree Te Paki and Kodah Burgess, Dandenong’s Kailey Neave, Tayla Galucho, Manuela Pouch and Dakota Kirikiri and Pakenham’s Isabella de Jong have made the cut for the under-16 girls.

Casey’s Emma Gony and Dandenong’s Jessica-Belle Catheray-Harvey, Georgia Taylor, Paige Galuncho, Milly Kumbara, Georgia Sewell, Meg Robertson, Grace Montgomery and Sophie Palmer will be part of the under-18 girls program.

The talent is just as impressive on the boys side.

Nathan Cooper-Brown, boys high performance head coach, was impressed with the high standard of workouts at trials, particularly after the players spent most of 2020 under lockdown conditions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“To think these athletes had so long away from the court and to see what they were putting out at tryouts shows strong prospect for the shape of the State Development Program,“ Cooper-Brown said.

Ash Arnott, another boys high performance coach, could sense a competitiveness among the players that will stand the program in good stead this year.

“The competitive nature of our boys at tryouts was impressive to see and highlights the strong foundations of basketball our athletes already possess,“ Arnott said.

“Now in the State Development Program, these skills will be built upon and these athletes will be shaped as individuals both on and off the court.“

Casey’s Sebastien Rault, Tryman Byrne, Callun McDonald and Cedric Rault, Dandenong’s Tullan Chimyong, Sebastien Khan, Henry Sewell, Ryan Baker, Luke Fennell, Noah Mraz and Landon Purcell and Pakenham’s Jake Meagher have made under-16 boys squad.

Casey’s Archer McMenamin, Brian Venegesayi and Joshua Parkinson, Dandenong’s Mitchell Simmons and Daniel Mazur and Pakenham’s Kaleb Beveridge will be part of the under-18 boys program.