Alongside the acknowledgment of our past with those inducted into the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame, the Basketball Australia Awards were recognised tonight to honour the current contribution of our national players.
The Gaze Family, Maher Family, Sandy Blythe and Sue Hobbs Medals credit the Australian Boomers, Opals, Rollers and Gliders respectively for their performances during Olympic and World Championship campaign while the Men’s and Women’s Youth Players of the Year are awarded to the brightest rising stars of our sport.
In 2014, Matthew Dellavedova earned the Gaze Family award at the FIBA World Cup at just his second international tournament for the Boomers.
Dellavedova’s ability to impact all areas of the court was felt through the competition as he averaged five points and 6.5 assists through the opening two games of the pool stage.
He then recorded a tournament-high 13 points in a clash with Lithuania which he repeated in the final game against Turkey, knocking down two three-pointers and combining 13 points with five assists.
Dellavedova led his country for assists with 3.7 per game overall, finishing 14th for the competition while also contributing 7.5 points and 2.5 rebounds.
In 2016, Andrew Bogut portrayed his trademark courage and determination to represent the Boomers at the Rio Olympics.
Going down in a sickening clash during the NBA Finals, Bogut was put in serious doubt for the Olympics with bone bruising on his knee but in less than two months to recover, he reached Rio and was awarded the Gaze Family Medal.
With the Boomers recording their best ever result at an Olympics, Bogut averaged 13.5 points, eight rebounds and 5.5 assists against France and Serbia as Australia won their opening two games for the first time ever.
The Boomers then pushed the USA all the way and Bogut shot 15 points on 7-9 shooting in a memorable contest to finish with averages of 9.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists.
2014 Gaze Family Medal Winner- Matthew Dellavedova
2016 Game Family Medal Winner- Andrew Bogut
Returning from an injury that kept her out of the 2012 Olympics, Penny Taylor was awarded the Maher Family Medal in 2014 as captain of the Opals at the FIBA World Championship.
She made a welcome return to the team in their opening game of the tournament, scoring 20 points on 7-12 shooting and she stepped up again in the Quarter-Finals with eight points and five assists in a win over Canada.
While the Opals missed an opportunity to play for a gold medal, Taylor was not going to be denied a place on the podium as she tallied 13 points, five rebounds, nine assists and two steals in a 74-44 trouncing of Turkey.
A dominant performance in the paint from Elizabeth Cambage saw her earn the Maher Family Medal in 2016 after she finished the Olympics as one of only two players to average a double-double with 23.5 points (first overall) and 10.3 rebounds (second).
Starting with 20 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks against home team Brazil, Cambage then led an incredible comeback against Japan, out-scoring the opposition by herself with 18 points in the final term as Australia won 92-86.
Her total of 37 points was the third highest points tally by a woman in Olympic history and the highest in 28 years.
She then helped the Opals fight back from another deficit against Belarus with 17 points and nine rebounds while recording 29 points and 11 boards in their final game against Serbia.
2014 Maher Family Medal Winner – Penny Taylor
2016 Maher Family Medal Winner – Elizabeth Cambage
After claiming the award two years previous, Shaun Norris was again bestowed the Sandy Blythe Medal as Australia defended their World Championship title in 2014 by winning the gold medal.
Norris was everywhere on court for the Rollers through the pool stage, averaging a team-high 17.9 points per game which he combined with 5.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists.
He then contributed 21 points, eight boards, four assists and two steals in a stunning five-point victory against Turkey to advance to the gold medal where they exacted revenge on the USA for a previous loss in the tournament to claim the World Championship.
After making his Paralympic debut at London, Jannik Blair took home the Sandy Blythe Medal in 2016.
His defensive tenacity at the Rio Olympics shone through from the opening game when he tallied five points and two steals and he played important minutes throughout the tournament.
The Rollers ultimately missed a podium opportunity at Rio but Blair was consistent throughout the tournament. He contributed on the scoreboard when needed as well and capped off a strong campaign with two points and three steals in their final game of the Paralympics, cementing his place as the team’s main defensive enforcer.
2014 Sandy Blythe Medal Winner – Shaun Norris
2016 Sandy Blythe Medal Winner – Jannik Blair
First appearing for the Gliders in 2006, Cobi Crispin was a key piece of the national team in 2014 when they finished sixth at the World Championships.
While Australia was unable to keep their winning streak going at the World Championships, Crispin was a shining light for the team and started the tournament in style with 11 points against the USA.
They won their next three games of the group stage and Crispin averaged nine points with 4.7 rebounds to help her team advance to the Quarter-Finals.
The tournament ended there for the Gliders but Crispin continued to perform in all areas of the court and finished with an average of 7.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists across their eight games while shooting a very impressive 53% from the field.
2014 Sue Hobbs Medal- Cobi Crispin
In 2014, Dejan Vasiljevic burst on to the scene while for the women, Kristy Wallace and Alanna Smith shared the honours.
As a member of the Australian Crocs, Vasiljevic led a gallant side to a second consecutive medal at the Under-17 World Championships, averaging 17.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists per contest.
While the Crocs fell to the USA in the gold medal game, Vasiljevic left his best for last as he scored 29 points in the final on 6-14 three-point shooting and the guard was also named in the tournament All-Star Five.
Wallace and Smith helped Australia claim gold at the Under-18 Oceania Championship and in her national debut, Wallace averaged 11.8 points and 1.8 steals per contest which included a 12-point, four-assist performance against New Zealand to claim gold.
Smith led the team in scoring with 21 points per game, shooting 65% from the field while also pulling down 3.7 rebounds per contest. She had a double-double against Tahiti before recording 21 points, seven rebounds and four steals in the final.
In 2016, Jack White and Ezi Magbegor took the honours with White joining Duke University following a stellar Under-19 World Championships where he averaged 8.3 points and 3.9 rebounds.
Magbegor created the first chapter of what is expected to be a storied career when she won the Under-17 World Championship MVP while leading the Sapphires to their first ever international gold medal.
On the back of 12.5 points and eight rebounds per game, she dominated the paint but it was at the defensive end where she really shone, averaging a steal and 2.8 blocks per game to help the Sapphires go through the tournament undefeated.’
2014 Men’s and Women’s Youth Player of the Year- Dejan Vasiljevic and Kristy Wallace & Alanna Smith
2016 Men’s and Women’s Youth Player of the Year- Jack White and Ezi Magbegor