Our Victorian Under-19 superstars have earned their call up to a four-day intensive camp to select the final squad for the Men’s and Women’s FIBA Under-19 World Cup.
The next generation has continued to do what Victorians do best – earn call ups to the Australian colours.
Even with 2020 all but ruled out for Victorian basketball, this elite group of 20 have showcased plenty of skill across their junior careers so far. They’ve all made an impact and are out to impress at these camps, held at the Australian Institute of Sport from 27 February – 2 March.
There are plenty of players still in contention for these teams who are also currently part of NBL squads or are featuring in collegiate basketball, so don’t be surprised if a few more Victorians get added to this list ahead of the respective championships in July (Men) and August (Women).
Australia knows a thing or two about medals at the Under-19 World Cup with our women winning the tournament in 1993 as well as picking up three silver medals and two bronze medals, while the men have won it once in 2003 and finished runners-up in 1995.
So, let’s get to know all of the Victorians who are set to feature in this initial squad!
A powerful forward/centre to be reckoned with in Bendigo basketball, Piper Dunlop has starred in every level she’s attained. Victoria Country representative and national medalist, former Australian representative and recently she made her WNBL debut with the Bendigo Spirit! Also known across country Victoria for the famous “Piper Punch”, Dunlop earned her place in our 2020 Victoria Country U18 Women’s team as well and is making up for lost time in 2021.
A superstar forward, Charlise Dunn is versatile, long, quick and difficult to match up against… so it’s extremely nice to have her on our side! But Australians outside of Victoria will soon know a lot more about her and her studded resume. Multiple Vic Metro national champion, Australian representative, Centre of Excellence athlete… she is legit. What more do you need to say when her game does all the talking?
Luisa Fakalata is a guard on the rise. She’s a two-time national champion with Vic Metro at Under-16 and Under-18 level and earned Australian representative duties at the FIBA U16 Asia Championships in 2019. On point as always, Luisa continued her stellar march through the ranks by earning VNPP selection in 2019 and was picked for our Under-18 Victoria Metropolitan Women in 2020.
Ever since Tess Heal burst onto the scene with the Bulleen Boomers at the Under-14 Club Championships, this guard has been on track for prime time. She represented Asia-Pacific in the Jr NBA Global Championships in 2018 and backed it up with TWO Under-16 national championships for Vic Metro in Maroochydore and Darwin! Tess also has an Australian honours under her belt and won’t slow down on accumulating selections, titles and much more in the years to come.
Nya Lok has starred in recent seasons as the forward/centre has made her mark on Waverley and earned her place in the Victorian High Performance system. She was selected in our State Development Program and rose quickly to earn her place in the Vic Metro Under-18 Women’s team for 2020. While we didn’t get to see her on the national stage last year… maybe it’ll be the international stage this year she stars on!
High octane point guard who dishes off at speed, attacks the ring and creates headaches across the court – Dallas Loughridge is a point guard to watch. She has shone throughout the Victoria Country ranks already. She’s been a guiding hand in national campaigns, including a silver medal in Maroochydore for under-16s, and has already worn the Australian jersey at the FIBA U16 Asia Championships. The slightest opportunity on court is usually capitalised on by this superstar from Warragul… so we wouldn’t be surprised if she takes up this chance too!
The smiling assassin and woman of 10,000 faces on court, Jade Melbourne is enigmatic both on and off the court. She was a shining light in an otherwise drab 2020, starring for Victoria in her first national championships triumph before lighting up the WNBL with her extraordinary rookie season with the University of Canberra Capitals. She has been dominant and consistent through her junior career so far – from Victoria Country duties, to representing Australia and earning her place at the Centre of Excellence. She’s spent countless hours on those COE courts where the camps will be held – don’t be surprised when she lights them up yet again at the end of the month.
Olivia Pollerd is the three-point Maestra of any side that is lucky enough to have her. She has been the outside threat for Victoria Country at multiple national championships, Victoria Under-20 Women in a national championship winning campaign in 2020 and was also featuring in the Centre of Excellence NBL1 side and turning heads across the country! She’s worn the green and gold and is committed to Washington Women’s Basketball team for her freshman year of college later this year.
It’s hard to think of a junior career in Australian basketball that’s been as accolade-rich and talent-driven as Gemma Potter. Gemma is a FIVE-TIME national championship winner with Victoria Metro at both bottom and top age Under-16/Under-18 and capped it off with the Victoria Under-20 Women in 2020. An Australian representative throughout the years, who represented her country TWICE in one year at the Under-17 and Under-19 level, a Centre of Excellence scholarship holder, Canberra Capitals rookie in 2019… so many accolades. While 2020 had its setbacks, 2021 is shaping up to be the year she takes another step up an already impressive path of achievements.
Nyadiew Puoch has thoroughly impressed at the state and national level. She has shone in the 2019 Under-16 Vic Metro Girls gold medal victory in Darwin, was selected in our Vic Metro Under-18 Women’s team for last year’s cancelled event, has been selected for Australian Development Camps in the past and has taken up a scholarship to the Centre of Excellence. With her amazing speed, span and natural ability, it’s no surprise that Nyadiew has been earmarked for national duties and we’re eager to see what the next chapter will be in her career.
Emily Sewell has made a name for herself as an elite athlete. She’s represented Australia, Vic Metro and Victoria, was selected in the Basketball Without Borders Asia All-Star team after an elite showing at the camp in 2019 and has starred at every step. Her talents are taking her to the University of Portland as well to further add to her illustrious junior journey so far.
Jasmine Whatley has been pushing up the ranks with Victoria Country on the way to some impressive outings in 2021. She was picked in VNPP and would have been a valuable member of our Victoria Country Under-18 Women’s team in 2020. Nonetheless, there is plenty of time left for her to shine in the junior ranks on the way to an elite career.
Dyson Daniels was a last-minute call up to our Victoria Country Under-16 team as a bottom-age guard in Perth and has scarcely been out of the spotlight since. He’s been an on-court leader at the point for every team he’s turned out with – Victoria Country, NBA Global Academy and now onto the Centre of Excellence. He’s already earned his NBL1 debut with the Bendigo Braves and is pushing towards senior basketball at rapid rate.
Another man to shine at the NBA Global Academy, Bol Dengdit has been an incredible player to watch across his time with Victoria Country. A 203cm forward with presence and power, he was selected for our Under-18 Men’s team last year and while 2020 was tedious for everyone, an extra year of development will push Bol to even greater levels in 2021.
Joshua Duach is on his way as the swingman continues to showcase his talents every time he steps on court. From his head-turning dunk at the Under-16 nationals in Maroochydore alongside further national championships success with Victoria Metropolitan… his path has been paved with gold. He’s already worn the Australian colours before at the junior level and would be ready to add even more success to an already elite junior career.
Bursting into our Victoria Under-20 A Men’s team in 2020, David Okwera captured plenty of attention in short time, both here and abroad. His wingspan, tremendous speed and talent across the court has made him a person to keep an eye on. He’s been selected to join the Centre of Excellence and the sky is not even the limit of where his basketball can go. 2021 will be massive for him and we’re eager to watch his journey.
Mason Perry is another guard set to shine in the spotlight as he’s starred at national championships for Vic Metro and pushed his way into contention for an Australian berth. Sharp and fast, Perry has all the skills to impress, wherever his game may take him.
One of the best things to ever come from Phillip Island (not even sorry – take that penguins!), Patrick Ryan is a bona fide star and set to impress in senior basketball in years to come. He has represented Victoria Country and Victoria, winning a national championship with the latter, as well as earning an Australian debut at the FIBA Oceania Under-17 championships. A Centre of Excellence athlete and All-Star at the Basketball Without Borders camp, the brakes are off on where his career can go.
Part of the famous 2018 come-from-behind gold medal triumph, Vic Metro national champion Riley Simmons is a dogged defender, powerful forward and someone you can trust with a task. Riley is the type of player you love to have around the group.
Perennial star in the blue and white, Zac Taylor has relished every second on court for Vic Metro and has plenty to offer on court. He’s been selected in Australian squads before and will be keen to make an impact at the end of the month.
It isn’t just Victorians in the jerseys with the Under – 19 squads Victorian High Performance Hub Lead Coach – Geelong David Herbert will lead the Gems, while multiple national championship winning head coach with Vic Metro Darren Perry will guide the Emus.
Former Basketball Victoria HP coach Kristen Veal and Victorian superstar, as both a player and a coach, Katrina Hibbert are also Gems assistant coaches.
THE WORLD CUP 2021 SCHEDULE
Basketball Australia will commence preparations for the 2021 FIBA Under 19 Women’s and Men’s Basketball World Cups with a preliminary camp to be held at BA’s Centre of Excellence within the Australian Institute of Sport from 27 February – 2 March. The Gems (women’s) and Emus (men’s) squads will come together for this four-day camp as they start the journey to the Worlds, to be held in Europe later in the year.
The men’s event is currently set to take place 3-11 July (location TBC), with the women’s tournament to be hosted by Debrecen, Hungary from 7-15 August.
THE GEMS SQUAD FOR THE FOUR-DAY INTENSIVE CAMP
ATHLETE – HOME STATE/TERRITORY
Isobel Borlase – South Australia
Indiah Bowyer – Queensland
Lil Dart – Queensland
Kate Deeble – Queensland
Piper Dunlop – Victoria
Charlise Dunn – Victoria
Chyra Evans – New South Wales
Luisa Fakalata – Victoria
Alana Goodchild – New South Wales
Tess Heal – Victoria
Kitty Henderson – New South Wales
Nya Lock – Victoria
Dallas Loughridge – Victoria
Ruby MacDonald – New South Wales
Jade Melbourne – Victoria
Isabelle Morgan – New South Wales
Olivia Pollerd – Victoria
Gemma Potter – Victoria
Nyadiew Puoch – Victoria
Millie Prior – New South Wales
Lilly Rotunno – Queensland
Emily Sewell – Victoria
Shaneice Swain – Queensland
Jasmine Whatley – Victoria
Lauren Wise – Tasmania
GEMS COACHING TEAM
Head Coach – David Herbert
Assistant Coach – Kristen Veal
Assistant Coach – Katrina Hibbert
THE EMUS SQUAD FOR THE FOUR-DAY INTENSIVE CAMP
ATHLETE – HOME STATE/TERRITORY
Ryan Abbott – New South Wales
Taran Armstrong – Tasmania
Clancy Bird – New South Wales
Dyson Daniels – Victoria
Sejr Deans – Tasmania
Bol Dengdit – Victoria
Joshua Duach – Victoria
Fiston Ipassou – South Australia
Evan Kilminster – New South Wales
Boston Mazlin – Queensland
Jack McWilliams – New South Wales
David Okwera – Victoria
Mason Perry – Victoria
Tyrese Proctor – New South Wales
Keanu Rasmussen – South Australia
Daniel Rogers – Western Australia
Patrick Ryan – Victoria
Riley Simmons – Victoria
Reyne Smith – Tasmania
Zac Taylor – Victoria
Harry Wessels – Western Australia
EMUS COACHING TEAM
Head Coach – Darren Perry
Assistant Coach – Robbie McKinlay
Assistant Coach – Michael Cassidy