Australia’s road to the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship has begun, with a 24-man roster chosen for the first training camp of the campaign.
Mark Watkins will return as the head coach of the men’s squad after a successful run in 2014, winning a silver medal at the event in Dubai, UAE.
Australian U17 Men’s Training Camp Roster
Brady Armstrong – TAS
Patrick Bines – VIC
Mate Colina – VIC
Callum Dalton – QLD
Lachlan Dent – NSW
Dragan Elkaz – NSW
Benjamin Fakira – NSW
Sam Froling – QLD
Tom Fullarton – QLD
Biar Garang – SA
Jason Gregg – NSW
Bailey Griffiths – VIC
Ky Hampton-Matthews – SA
Jamie Hepburn – WA
William Howell – NSW
Matthew Johns – VIC
Jhonny Lutula – WA
Harrison Mills – SA
Moses Mojok – QLD
Alexander Mudronja – SA
Aidan O’Carroll – VIC
Ryan Runnalls – QLD
Jordan Starr – San Diego, CA
Kyle Zunic – NSW
The camp will take place from June 12-15 in Churchill, Victoria with the expectation that the squad will be cut down to 16 for a final camp in July. This is all in preparation for the FIBA Oceania U16 Championships, held from August 15-18 in New Zealand – with the winner of the game qualifying for the FIBA U17 World Championship in 2016.
The U17 coaching staff have reviewed the athletes over the past year, using last year’s U16’s Australian Junior Championships, as well as this year’s U18’s Australian Junior Championships, to scout the players.
NSW Country was the winner of the U16’s Australian Junior Championships, with three players from that squad chosen for this camp – Lachlan Dent, Kyle Zunic and William Howell. NSW Metro wasn’t expected to perform well at the event but surprised a lot of people by putting together some great performances, led by Dragan Elkaz and Jason Gregg. Big-man Benjamin Fakira rounds out the NSW invitees.
As usual, the state of Victoria has a large contingent of athletes selected to this squad. Patrick Bines has had an impressive year, competing for VIC Metro in both the U16’s and U18’s tournament. He’s joined by Mate Colina, Bailey Griffiths and Aidan O’Carroll, while Matthew Johns was the sole VIC Country athlete chosen for the camp.
Tom Fullarton will likely be the primary player amongst this group, having already competed at an extremely high level. The 6’5 wing out of Queensland participated in last year’s adidas Nations Global event and has performed well as a member of the Centre of Excellence squad during SEABL action this year. Queensland is putting forward a number of quality players: Sam Froling (brother of Harry Froling) and Callum Dalton are impressive big-men, while Ryan Runnalls and Moses Majok are also expected to perform well in the camp.
Another impact player in this group is Biar Garang. A 6’4 guard out of South Australia with unmatched athleticism, Garang possesses a unique physicality for his position and can play a big part for this U17 squad. South Australia put forward a dynamic group in last year’s U16’s Australian Junior Championships. Ky Hampton-Matthews was the leading scorer in that competition while Harrison Mills performed admirably in this year’s U18’s competition. Rounding out the South Australian invitees is high-IQ guard, Alexander Mudronja.
Western Australia’s Jhonny Lutula is one of the more athletic guards included in the camp, while 6’6 Jamie Hepburn will be competing for one of the front-court spots on the squad. Tasmania’s sole inclusion is Brady Armstrong, a all-round guard out of Devonport.
A surprising inclusion is 6’5 small forward, Jordan Starr. Not much is known about Starr within Australian circles so it’ll be interesting to see how he competes at the camp. He currently attends Foothills Christian High School in San Diego, California and, from what we’ve gathered, he’s been performing well in the San Diego AAU circuit.
Australia has performed well at the U17 World Championship in recent years. Dante Exum and Ben Simmons led the 2012 squad to a silver medal, while Isaac Humphries and Dejan Vasiljevic were the key players for the 2014 squad’s silver-medal run.
This camp is the beginning of a long campaign, with the first test coming in August – a one-game qualifier against a tough New Zealand side.