Talks With The Basketball Team Coaches of the 2018 US College Exposure Tour
Basketball Queensland had 4 teams – South 1 Boys, South 2 Boys, North 1 Boys and South Girls go over to the USA on a 12 day trip in July for the 2018 College Development Tour. Our athletes had training sessions at Shoot 360, visited US Colleges UCLA and Loyola Marymount University – also getting a unique opportunity to train and use the colleges’ facilities, met with college coaching staff which was followed by a Q&A session, played in an NCAA Accredited Tournament in Las Vegas and attended NBA Summer League games! Check out some of the photos from the trip!
Michael Lake – South 1 Boys
Overall our team performed above and beyond expectations winning 4 out of 8 games for the trip which is always difficult when adapting to a different style of play and officiating. Despite losing our first two games of the tournament by just 1 point against the team who finished 3rd, and then holding our own but ultimately falling short to the eventual champions, the boys responded and went on to win their final 3 games to claim to the Boys Varsity Level 2 Consolation Bracket championship.
Aside from testing ourselves on court against some really talented teams, the boys definitely enjoyed all that LA and Vegas had to offer us. Between visits to just about every shopping mall the boys could find, the team loved the opportunity to train at the state-of-the-art Shoot 360 in LA and visit the amazing campus at UCLA. In Vegas, the clear winner was the NBA Summer League where there were plenty of stars to see and some were even lucky enough to get a photo with current Denver Nuggets and former Brisbane Bullets star Torrey Craig thanks to Bullets Assistant Coach CJ Bruton!
Some advice for players wanting to go on future tours, engage as much as possible in all the SPP and state trials to help build your understanding of the Queensland style of play and keep asking questions of your coaches! Put the work in and these trips present a genuine opportunity to be noticed by American high-school and college coaches and potentially open doors to playing overseas and most importantly… If you are fortunate enough to have parents who can send you on a trip like this, make sure they know you appreciate it!
Steve Allan – South 2 Boys
Being able to adjust to different rules in some aspects of the game and more physical style of play the team manager to finish 4th in the gold bracket of the Level 3 varsity AAU tournament in Las Vegas. To be able to put together a great group of athletes in 10 weeks of training and to have this result is a great effort by all involved especially the parents who take time out of there busy scheduled to take the boys to training each week.
The team’s favourite highlight of the tour was being able to play against a different style of basketball compared to what they are used to back at home week after week. While there, they took in the sights of Las Vegas and a trip out to the Hoover Dam. While in Los Angeles, the team was lucky to have members of the Ball family (LaMelo, LiAngelo and LaVar) stay at the hotel where we were staying along with many other players from the JBA as they were having a round of their competition in town at that time. Most of the boys were lucky enough to be able to speak to them and even get some photos taken.
For future aspiring athletes wanting to go on next year’s tour, work hard on all levels of your own game and focus on the little things that will make you become a better player. Being able to score is the easy thing to do but work on defense and communication and your basketball result on the court will improve
Annette Winton – North 1 Boys
Our Under 18 Queensland North College Exposure Team had a fantastic opportunity with an 11-day tour to Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Whilst in LA, along with team training at a very large 21 court venue, the team had a number of practice games against a variety of school teams (Golden Valley High, Temple High, St Gabriel’s). These were certainly educational, not only being able to compare the two high school systems and facilities, but also the different game rules and interpretations. Our players were challenged to a faster and a much more intense and physical style of play. It also provided our players with the opportunity to see what standards can be achieved with constant work, which pushes their comfort zone.
Along with the general sightseeing (Venice Beach, St Monica’s Pier, Beverley Hills, Rodeo Drive, Hollywood Boulevard), and numerous shopping trips, some of the great basketball highlights included attending the Drew Basketball League and visiting both the UCLA and LMU campuses. The boys were most excited, and an enormous number of photos taken as we were sharing the same hotel with a number of NBA stars, LaMelo Ball, LaVar, LiAngela. The real highlight, however, was our visit to the Shoot 360 facility where the boys were taken through a very intense one-hour workout on the Ball Handling and Shooting Stations. These stations are designed to test, analysis, correct and improve skills.
For our LA stay over, we drove to Las Vegas where we competed in the AAU “Jam On It – West Coast National Championship”. How impressive was it to walk into the 47-court venue that had games being played on every court from start to finish each day of this five-day tournament? This tournament gave the boys yet another insight to a higher level of game quickness and physicality that what we had just experienced in LA. The boys again had a tough challenge in each game, but they displayed great team camaraderie and support. From the five hard-fought games, with all finishing in close results, we had two wins and three losses and gained a whole lot of experience.
We again had some great opportunities to do some tourist things, more shopping, walking the Strip, having two college coaches come in to talk to the boys, attending the NBA Summer League. The real standout highlight though was Mitch Creek taking the time from his busy schedule and spending some time to talk with the boys on his experiences and to offer some wise advice.
This tour provides an excellent basketball and cultural experience to all players and coaches and one that you will never forget. For the aspiring athlete wanting to be part of future tours, keep investing in the time and challenge yourself on working hard out of your comfort zone to develop not only your individual skills but to learn how to compete physically and build mental toughness.
Jana Drakopoulos – South Girls
The College Exposure Tour (CET) Girls’ team had a successful ‘Jam on It’ tournament. This was not just because the group progressed [undefeated] to the final, but because of the way that players conducted themselves on and off the court. Togetherness, positivity and sportsmanship defined who we were as a group. Unfortunately, despite putting up a good fight, we were defeated by the ‘Jam on It’ team in the final who similarly, had been handpicked, such as our team.
The team experienced multiple highlights from the trip; I will be mentioning these shortly. What I would like to acknowledge are the friendships that were formed. A credit to the girls for making such an effort to step out of their comfort zones, away from their devices and got to know each other. This was incredible to see, and I believe this added to the group’s togetherness and enjoyment on and away from the basketball court.
The NCAA Showcase Tournament was the absolute highlight. Tournament style of play is very different to playing one representative game per week. Exposing players to this style of play, in another country, is highly important for their growth and development as a basketball player, a key reason this tour takes place.
The team, however, experienced a plethora of highlights including:
- The Dodger’s (MLB) on July 4th
- NBA Summer League
- WNBA: Los Angeles Sparks vs Connecticut Suns
- Shoot 360
- Practice game played against El Salvadorian Under 18 Girls National Team
- College visits – LMU, UCLA and an unofficial visit to the University of Irvine where we had a private tour with the coaching staff of the women’s team.
- Visited the stunning Newport Beach
- Almost visited Compton
- Shopping (of course)
In closing, Rebecca [Schatz] and I had a fantastic time on the tour. We thoroughly enjoyed working with such a positive, well-informed and upbeat group of young women. They represented themselves, their families and Basketball Queensland to an incredibly high standard.