Trip of a lifetime
BASKETBALL: Gladstone youngsters Lachlan Wilmot and Jack Small have definitely returned the wiser whenever they will next step on the court.
The teenagers were a part of the Basketball Queensland 2017 Emerging tour of the US in which there were two Queensland under-17 and three Queensland U15 teams.
Unfortunately a serious ankle injury sustained several weeks ago prevented Lachlan to take any part in playing, but he soaked up the experience as best he could.
"It's purpose was to expose us to different environments and styles of play and to teach us how to play our style of basketball in those environments,” Lachlan said
"The highlights of the trip was the WNBA game and the July 4 baseball game.”
Lachlan also met two-time NBA All-Star, 2013 NBA All-Defensive Second Team in 2013I and Los Angeles Lakers small forward Loul Deng at the airport.
After watching the games, it has made Lachlan more determined than ever to get back on court.
"My ankle is going great and the ligaments have re-attached to the bone now,” he said.
"I just got to stretch and strengthen the muscles around it and will still be out for a couple of months.”
Forward-centre Jack played seven games and said the experience was an eye-opener.
"Getting to play basketball in America was a unique experience and the style of play is more physical, more intense and they have different plays to anything I've seen in Australia before,” he said.
"For me, one of the biggest things I have learnt is the level of intensity I need to play with.
"I had a three-on-three competition with the other Emerging teams and I did several training camps with our coaches and some with American college and NBA coaches.
"It was such a cool experience, some of the things I saw and learnt were different to anything I've seen before.”
The pair also visited Pepperdine University which is a division one basketball college in Malibu and UCLA.
"(They) were pretty amazing experiences and we trained with famous coaches like Jason Wright and using the special training equipment at the Shoot 360 facility in LA,” Jack said.
"Other highlights were getting to go to Disneyland, Universal Studios and visiting iconic places such as Venice Beach and Santa Monica Pier.
"We went to the Staples Centre and watched a WNBA game between the LA Sparks and the Washington Mystics.”
Jack said he got some valuable advice from esteemed junior and Gladstone Port City Power women's coach Ray Cooper before his American adventure.
"Ray has done the trip before and he told me a bit about what to expect and the level of intensity I would need to play with while I was in LA,” Jack said.
Jack's U15 gold division Queensland team finished with two wins.