By Roy Ward
SHE hasn’t spent more than two months away from home before but Dandenong Rangers centre Jacinta Vandenberg can’t wait to move to America.
The 18 year old has agreed to take a basketball scholarship with division 1 school Fresno State University.
Vandenberg plays with the Rangers’ South East Australian Basketball League women’s side and was a member of the club’s 2011 SEABL D-League women’s championship team.
She said the decision to go to Fresno State came after Vandenberg had intended to attend Utah State University. She said the change came after her coach, Raegan Pebley, changed schools.
“My coach called me and said I could either stay or I could come to Fresno,” Vandenberg said. “I thought about it and went with Fresno because I thought it was a better fit as I knew the coach and didn’t want to commit to a school where I didn’t know the coach.”
Vandenberg also leaned on her Rangers D-League coach, Paul Flynn, for advice as he is a former leading SEABL men’s player and played college basketball in America.
“Paul is my favourite coach of all time and I couldn’t go back to playing for a coach I didn’t have a relationship with,” she said. “I had also developed relationships with coach Pebley’s assistant coaches so that was important as well.”
The Bentleigh East resident is a former Waverley Falcons junior who crossed over to the Rangers five years ago.
She spent two months in America over Christmas visiting potential schools and also her brother, who lives there.
Vandenberg said she was counting down the days until she leaves for her new life although she would miss her Rangers teammates.
“It’s pretty close now, 110 days away,” she said. “I move in mid-August. I’m excited but the nerves are starting to hit. Moving away from home is something I’ve always wanted to do and I will be going to a good school in a good conference. I can’t wait.”
Vandenberg said she looked forward to the more physical style of US college basketball along with chance to become stronger in her school’s weights program.
■ Dandenong Rangers defeated Sandringham Sabres 95-84 in their SEABL clash at Dandenong Basketball Stadium yesterday.
The Rangers were superbly led by Daequon Montreal, who scored 31 points and generally proved a handful for the Sabres’ defence.
Andrew Harms (25 points) provided plenty of support while Rangers import Tony Lewis continued his strong season.
The Lady Rangers were also successful, beating the Sabres 68-60 with Stephanie Cumming scoring 21 points while Hope Terdich was also prominent.