By Hayley Wildes
Last year, Noble Park local Jerome Pierre represented Victoria Metro in the Basketball Australia under-16 Junior Championships as a 14-year-old.
After playing a vital role on that team – which took all before them on their way to winning gold – Pierre will once again pull on the big V jersey in 2019 and he’ll have some added responsibility this time around.
Highlighting Pierre’s growth as a player and as a person, the Dandenong Ranger will be captaining Victoria Metro when they head up to Darwin for the national championships which start on 6 July.
It’s been quite the rise for someone who only began playing basketball in 2016 and he hopes to use the experience from last year’s gold medal run this time around.
“Last year was a great experience and obviously winning it gave me that taste of what it’s like and what it takes to get that gold medal,” Pierre said.
“It’s a new start this year though; obviously that was last year and we’ve got to do it for the state again and get the win.”
As the only player returning from last year’s gold medal-winning squad, Pierre outlined what he hopes to bring to the squad.
“I hope to bring some leadership and just bring all my skills, talents and experience to the team to help us win this gold medal,” he said.
“I obviously wasn’t the captain last year and it was just good to learn and get the experience.
“Now I’m bringing that to this group of boys and to know that they look up to me like this and nominated me as captain is a great feeling.
“I look forward to leading and bringing my experience to the tournament.”
Claiming back-to-back gold medals isn’t going to be easy, but Pierre believes in the squad assembled.
“The boys are great; we really gelled together quickly this year and there are great personalities as well as great talent,” he said.
“With the way we’ve gelled together, I think we’ve got a great chance of winning this tournament if we just stick to our game and the way we’ve trained for it.”
After exclusively playing the centre position last year for Victoria Metro, Pierre has worked hard on expanding his game and this will see him play a more diverse role this year.
“I’ve just been trying to developing everything – learning all the different parts and positions of the game, improving physically and continuing to develop my skills across the floor,” he said.
“I’ll be rotating through some positions this year, because like I said, I’ve been developing different skills at different positions and I’ve gained the trust of the coaches to do more this year.”
Pierre credits Dandenong for playing a huge role in his development.
“Dandenong Basketball has been very important for me – all coaches across my time there have been very helpful,” he said.
“All the coaches, parents, staff and players from every team that I’ve played for have been very supportive and continued to help develop me.”
One of the key focus areas of development that Pierre pointed to last year was controlling his emotions. Having put in the work over the past 12 months, he now says that aspect of his game is under control.
“I’d say all signs of frustration are almost completely gone,” he said.
“I think my professionalism has grown, I’m a bit more mature and have more experience – I’m getting used to playing calm now and it shows in my game.”
With six pool games in five days, followed by two days of finals, Jerome Pierre is sure to be busy, but with a well-rounded game and immense leadership, he looks to the right person to lead Victoria Metro in their quest for back-to-back national titles.