In the lead-up to the Under-18 Championships and Kevin Coombs Cup which will run in Geelong, Victoria, from April 21-28, we preview the teams from all eight state and territories that are represented.
Under-18 Men’s Team List:
Taran Armstrong, Hunter Clarke, Lachlan Cocker, Izach Collins, Jackson Lowe, Ryan Nibbs, Jacob Richards, Reyne Smith, Noah Straatsma, Hayden Zasadny.
Tasmania had their best result at the Under-18’s since 2013 last year and with four returning players, led by Hunter Clarke, they will be aiming to build on that momentum and make a charge at the podium in 2018.
Returning home to Australia after a stint in the USA, Clarke debuted for Tasmania last year and averaged 17.9 points (fourth in the tournament) and five rebounds per game as a bottom-ager. An elite shooter, Clarke also finished second for three-pointers made and he represents the international model of a guard with great size for the back court. With time spent at the NBA Global Academy since last year, he will have only improved his game ahead of this Champs.
Another returning player, Lachlan Cocker benefited from Clarke’s hot shooting and collected just under two assists per contest last year while Taran Armstrong will ensure their guard rotation is one of the most impressive in the competition.
On the national radar after attending a Basketball Australia Athlete Development Camp, Armstrong tore up the Under-16’s in 2017, averaging 19.5 points (first in the tournament), 4.8 rebounds, 4.9 assists (third) and 3.5 steals (second).
In the paint, Jacob Richards is a strong passer but can also finish around the rim as he tallied the second most amount of assists for Tasmania last year while adding 7.3 points per game.
He will need assistance from the likes of Jackson Lowe and Hayden Zasadny but under the tutelage of Mark Radford, the Australian World Uni Games head coach and Under-19 Emus assistant coach, they are sure to be a well-drilled and well-disciplined team.
Under-18 Women’s Team List:
Emily Amos, Aishah Anis, Olivia Crawford, Sharn Hayward, Ashanti Johnston, Jessica Johnston, Shelby Rayner, Micah Simpson, Taya Stevenson, Sophie Winter
With a fair bit of SEABL pedigree in the Tasmanian women’s team, they will be looking to rise up the rankings after finishing 12th last year.
Taya Stevenson represents the Hobart Chargers while the Launceston Tornadoes have Jess Johnston on their roster and Aishah Anis who is coming off a strong Under-16’s with 9.3 points, four rebounds and 1.3 steals per game.
Shelby Rayner will power their offence after finishing third for three-pointers made in the Under-18’s tournament last year with 18 overall and now as a top-ager, her experience will also prove valuable for the team.
They will need to utilise their speed and get out in transition to hurt oppositions as Tasmania are not a tall side and are likely to be caught out if the game slows down.
That said, Olivia Crawford is back for her second year at the Under-18’s while Sophie Winter gets the chance to prove herself at her first national Championships and their combination will still be important to Tasmania’s chances.