Assessing talent at the Boys Under 15 Oceania Championship
Which Australian and New Zealand players look set for bright basketball futures?
Late last month, the FIBA Under 15 Oceania Championships took place. The tournament showcases the best emerging talent in the region, and for young basketballers fortunate enough to be selected to represent their countries, it’s often their first taste of international competition.
Speaking to The Pick and Roll this week, Australian Under 15 head coach Ash Arnott shared how vital of an experience the first event in the green and gold was for his players.
“It’s really important because they get international games under their belt - obviously travelling overseas, playing in a new country with Australia across their chest brings a new kind of pressure that they need to learn to play with. That experience is invaluable, and learning to execute under that pressure is important for them moving forward in the basketball careers, not only as individuals but as a team.”
Like most years, the competition against smaller nations often lacks stimulus for powerhouse nations Australia and New Zealand, with frequent 100-point score differentials. The two matchups between the two lead countries however, proved to be close and competitive.
“New Zealand was a very talented, very well-coached team. It was two tough battles. I thought our boys’ work ethic, the way they stayed the course and executed for the full games was a credit to them, because when you’re playing such a talented team, if you’re not focused and locked in for that full forty minutes, that’s when the game can slip the other way,” Arnott said.
As far as scouting goes, it’s always early days in this age bracket. You never quite know how skill or physical developments will occur over the next few years, that could massively alter the order of talent and potential ceiling. In the last championship held in 2018, a younger, much smaller Dyson Daniels would be Australia’s equal sixth highest scorer. Whilst his defensive presence was evident, his lack of size and shooting ability (2/17 from three, 4/12 from the line) were both notable inhibitors. Among other factors, a significant growth spurt to 6’7 and fundamental skill improvement across the board resulted in him becoming an NBA lottery pick.
With that said, those with an observant eye would have identified the makings of some elite professional sporting talent - and not just in basketball. The 2018 event showcased future Australian Division 1 NCAA talents Josh Duach (Iona - now Melbourne United), Jack McWilliams (Oklahoma City University), Sejr Deans (Tasmania Jackjumper DP, now Jacksonville), as well as St Kilda Saints AFL draft pick Marcus Windhager, whilst the Kiwis had a talented lineup of their own with Tafara Gapare (UMass), Ben Gold (Marquette), Zach Riley (Fordham), Akiva Griffin (UC Irvine) and Hunter Adam (Davidson 2023 commit). Simply put, the event has had precedence for showcasing elite basketball talent.
Arnott expressed his enthusiasm for the talent in this year’s age group, saying it was a difficult selection process refining the team down to its final 12.
“It’s a great age group, there’s a lot of depth, which made the selection camp a tough one. With all the talent coming through, they’re going to be tough teams to put together going forward. What’s great about all the depth is that these players are all going out and making each other better every week and every game at nationals like we saw this year, which is going to result in some great players coming out of this age group.”
In similar fashion, choosing a select few players to highlight from the event is a tall task. Australia in particular possesses a highly egalitarian output, with fantastic contributions and promising talent up and down the roster. It ranges from Ryder Cheeseman’s tenacious on-ball defence, to Indy Cotton’s mindblowing scoring efficiency, through to the rebounding and defensive effort of Aaron Gashaw.
With that said, here’s three Aussies and three Kiwis that stood out to me, as we take a preliminary look at some of the region’s top talent in the age group.
Coming in to the event, there is no name that’s more obvious to track than Dash Daniels, and he did not disappoint.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to The Pick and Roll to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.