Andrew Bogut, Luc Longley, Ben Madgen, Luke Schenscher, John Rillie, Patty Mills, Andrew Gaze… what do all of these guys have in common? They’re all Australians who have been through the American NCAA college basketball system. And like so many others before and after them, they’ve been exposed to a whole other culture in athletic achievement for young sports studs.
Numbers of Aussies in the NCAA are increasing every year, as international scouting spreads its wings and as the kids from downunder make names for themselves as solid athletes of solid character. One college in particular has embraced the Aussie spirit: the St Mary’s College Gaels. The 2010-11 roster boasts four Australians in Jorden Page (6’1″ G), Mitchell Young (6’9″ F), Matt Dellavedova (6’4″ G) and Clint Stiendl (6’7″ G/F). Additionally, the Gaels have recently seen school all-time leading scorer Daniel Kickert (Poland), big man Ben Allen (Townsville Crocodiles) and Patty Mills (Portland Trail Blazers) go through their ranks — thus, the “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie” chants are well entrenched at St Mary’s.
Part of what makes Australian youngsters so attractive is the Australian Institute of Sport program. After coming through the AIS, talented players have already been fostered in an environment that teaches them discipline, organisational skills and solid basketball fundamentals. In short, College programs have had some of their work done for them.
Boti Nagy of the Adelaide Advertiser wrote a short piece the other day about the fact that 180 Aussies are currently in the US college basketball system. It’s worth a read.