By Hayley Wildes
There’s no doubt that Dandenong Basketball continues to go from strength to strength. Massive participation numbers, coupled with great pathways for elite-level talent, Dandenong Basketball is absolutely booming.
You need not look any further than the recent announcement of the U18 Victoria Metro squads. Both the men’s and women’s teams have a strong Dandenong flavour and they will all be doing their best being home the gold for Victoria.
In the U18 men’s team there are five players in the squad and a further two who are emergencies, while in the women’s squad, there are two representatives and two emergencies.
Director of Athlete and Coaching Development for men at Dandenong, Darren Perry knows first-hand the strength and depth of talent coming through the ranks.
“Part of that role is to know what’s coming and see what young players are trying to breakthrough and provide as much opportunity for those guys as we can,” Perry said.
“It’s great to see at quite a few of the age levels that we’ve got players representing Victoria, some are representing Australia and were excited about that pathway that players are able to achieve good things at Dandenong.”
Perry will be coaching the U18 Victoria Metro men’s squad when they head to Townsville in April, for what will be his fourth year in charge. He spoke about the talent at Dandenong and the work those who made squads have put in.
“There are more representatives than usual,” he said.
“Over the journey we’ve had representatives in each of the teams that I’ve coached, except for last year though.
“Three of the Dandenong boys were emergencies last year, so they did well as bottom-age players to still get into the program but missed selection for the team.
“The three guys who were in the emergency ranks last year have managed to push their way into the squad this year.”
Being able to take the disappointment of not being selected and coming back bigger and better the next year is the type of response Perry loves to see.
“Sometimes guys don’t make that jump or that improvement and it’s a great result for Dandenong basketball to have that many players involved.”
When asked who Dandenong followers should keep an eye on, Perry didn’t single out anyone, but knows each of the players who step on the hardwood will compete and give their all.
“The players from the club should all do well,” Perry said.
“I think getting into those teams and being able to represent and play in a National Championships means that these guys and girls are on a good path to head towards things not just this year, but past this year.
“It’s a good tournament to play in to get noticed and to get exposure – colleges in the States do take notice of players who do play at these championships, so it’s a good stepping stone.”
The Dandenong players selected for the U18 Victoria Metro men’s squad are; Mason Perry, Leyi Adebayo, Marcus Windhager, Zac Taylor, Riley Simmons and emergencies Jyelin Moli and Harrison Bowater. For the U18 Victoria Metro Women’s squad there is Leia Hanafin, Emily Sewell and emergencies Hannah Rapp and Hailey Merrigan.