Bendigo is set to play host to the 43rd Australian U20 and Ivor Burge Championships from February 12-18.
The Championships will showcase Australia’s brightest young talent, including college commits who will be preparing for the 2017/18 NCAA season. The event serves as a great opportunity for players to grow their reputation, gain attention from college scouts, win a national championship, and push their case for national team selection.
The Ivor Burge tournament features players with an intellectual disability, who will play off in hope of winning the championship for their state.
Players to Watch
Gabe HADLEY | Victoria
Hadley is a 6’3’ shooting guard who possesses a lethal outside shooting stroke. He last year committed to the New Mexico State Aggies. Originally from Tasmania, Hadley made the move over to Victoria a few years ago, where he has since made a habit of dominating the national championships. Just last year he averaged the 5th most points, with 17.25ppg. Expect Hadley to spread the floor and fire bombs from three.
Jacob RIGONI | South Australia
Rigoni possesses the proto-typical size of a forward at 6’6’, with the ability to score in loads and rebound proficiently. In the 2016 National Championships he averaged 17.5 PPG at an efficient 51% from the field, while also averaging 6.5 RPG. Rigoni had an extremely impressive third place playoff game, when he went off for 35 points and 12 boards. South Australia will need this sort of production from Rigoni once again if they are to challenge for the title.
Isaac WHITE | South Australia
Another South Australian, and last year’s leading scorer at the Champs with 20.75 PPG, returns in 2017. The 6’1’ combo guard from the Sturt Sabres shot 45% from the field last tournament and 33% from three. White will provide SA with a lethal scoring punch, as they look to improve on last year’s 4-2 record and third place finish.
Angus GLOVER | New South Wales
Glover is the latest Aussie to commit to the Saint Mary’s program. Glover will bring experience to the NSW line-up, having represented Australia on numerous occasions while also having played minutes in the NBL this season for the Illawarra Hawks. Glover was one of two Aussies named to the FIBA Oceania U19 Championships All-Star Five, the other being Jacob Rigoni. The 6’4’ guard is a scoring machine with powerful athleticism. Glover led NSW Country to the 2015 U18 Junior Championship title and NSW will be hoping he has a repeat performance in him.
Ezi MAGBEGOR | Victoria
When the Sapphires won the U17 World Championships last year and Magbegor was awarded the tournament MVP, the hype train surrounding Magbegor began to truly take off. Standing at 194cm and still growing, Magbegor should prove to be tough to handle for opposition teams at the National Champs. At the 2016 U18 tournament, Magbegor averaged 13.25 PPG and 8.75 RPG. The young Victorian should again put in a strong performance as she looks to help her state win another National Championship, less than two month’s after helping guide the Gem’s in qualifying for the 2017 FIBA U19 World Championships.
Milly YATES | New South Wales
It was announced in November last year that Yates was committing to the Saint Mary’s Gaels, the result of a recruitment process that began after the 2014 U16 National Championships, where Yates averaged 8.1 PPG. Yates had a strong showing at the 2016 U18 Champs, where she averaged 14.43 PPG, 6.29 RPG and 2.43 assists. Expect Yates to bring her dynamic scoring ability to the table throughout this year’s tournament.
Chantel HORVAT | Victoria
Horvat was a crucial member of the Victoria Navy side which won the 2016 U20 National Championships. During the campaign she averaged 12.14 PPG and 4 RPG as a bottom age player. A Centre of Excellence attendee, Horvat has the makings of a future star. Ranked as a five star recruit and 15th best prospect in the class of 2017 by ESPN, Horvat has committed to powerhouse program UCLA. Chantel Horvat is definitely a player to watch throughout the championships.
Jasmine SIMMONS | New South Wales
Simmons has long been a stand out in her age group and looks set to star once again. She put up monstrous numbers at the 2016 U18 Champs of 17 PPG, 12.75 RPG and 5.38 RPG. Simmons has taken her ‘do it all’ game to the international level too, playing a crucial role in the Sapphires U17 World Champs victory. Look for Simmons to lead NSW as they attempt to claim victory in this years’ tournament.
Victoria has won the last seven tournaments and look to be in a strong position to do so once again. Gabe Hadley is one of the best shooters in the tournament and is set to put up big numbers for Victoria. College bound Tom Pupavac will join Mate Colina and Ovie Magbegor as key big men for Victoria. The key trio will make it very hard for the opposition to gain second chances thanks to their size and rebounding prowess.
South Australia is shaping up as a contender with their two leading scorers from last year’s tournament returning to compete again. Isaac White (20.75 ppg, #1 Scorer in 2016) and Jacob Rigoni (17.5 ppg, #4 Scorer in 2016) will both play starring roles in SA’s title bid. Last year SA finished 3rd and is right in the running to contend their first U20 Champs since 1993.
NSW is also a notable contender. Led by Saint Mary’s Gaels commit and Australian representative Angus Glover, NSW have a strong array of Guards. Kyle Zunic has also represented Australia on numerous occasions, most notably at the 2016 U17 FIBA World Championship. Zunic put up a tournament best 4.5 assists and 3.38 steals at last year’s U18 National Championships. Brennan Rymer is a division two college commit who will also suit up for NSW; a combo guard who possesses a potent scoring ability. NSW will be hoping to break Victoria’s stranglehold on the championships and win the title.
Victoria’s historical dominance is likely to continue, having won the last six tournaments. This year’s edition has Victoria as early favourites to win once again. Chantel Horvat, Chloe Molloy, Courtenay Wragg and Monique Andriuolo will suit up once again after all four were members of Victoria’s 2016 victory. Victoria will field a mix of returning U20 players and last year’s U18’s, with the Victorians also winning the 2016 U18 champs. Kiera Rowe, Kara Tessari and the highly touted Ezi Magbegor are set to make the jump and play in the U20’s this year. They have both history and a stacked roster on their side.
South Australia finished as runners up in the 2016 competition, however their 2017 roster features vastly different personnel. SA’s top three leading scorers from 2016, Taylor Ortlepp, Jade Johnson and Bianca Thacker are now all freshmen in college. SA may struggle to keep up with the firepower of Victoria with a less experienced group.
NSW might just be Victoria’s biggest threat in this year’s tournament. Jasmine Simmons starred for Australia in the U17 World Cup and should prove a huge part of the NSW team. Keep an eye on Saint Mary’s commit Milly Yates, who averaged 14.43 ppg at the 2016 U18 tournament.