Taylor Ortlepp and Elizabeth Tonks are two young stars looking to make the jump from junior Australian representation to the NCAA. Both starred at the 2015 Australian Junior Championships and have since received strong interest from a number of Division I programs. Yet they have each taken slightly different pathways on their journey.
Set to complete her studies at the famed Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence (CoE) this year, Tonks is now looking ahead to her next challenge in basketball.
2015 was a big year for Tonks, earning a gold medal for Australia at the FIBA Oceania 3X3 tournament, and a semi final showing for New South Wales at the U20 Australian Junior Championships. Not forgetting that as a CoE athlete, Tonks also played in the SEABL, rubbing shoulders with players at senior level.
Having also earned a gold medal for Australia at the 2014 U19 FIBA Oceania Championships, she is a proven winner and performer at every level.
As a combo guard, Tonks' strengths are playing the pick and roll and connecting on the three-ball. Her skills and capability have so far generated interest from schools that include Portland, Arizona and Eastern Washington, with Tonks now considering a number of official visits in early 2016.
For Ortlepp, heading to the US to play college hoops is the next step towards realising her talent and abilities.
After successfully captaining her state at the U20 Australian Junior Championships earlier this year, Ortlepp represented Norwood in the South Australian Premier League and earned the award for best player aged under 21.
The 5'9 point guard from South Australia has matured into a smart playmaker who is able to penetrate, break down defenses and find the open player. When left open, she can also connect from beyond the arc. Ortlepp also boasts experience in representing Australia on the world junior stage, helping Australia to 5th place at the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championships, a tournament in which she would start.
Currently playing in the elite WNBL for the Adelaide Lightning, Ortlepp has received interest from a number of quality schools and will be looking to conduct visits later this month.