By Mitch Guy
COWES basketballer Tristan Lloyd is on the pathway to his dream of a US college basketball career, with the 6’ 5” guard in contention for selection in the Under 19 Australian team.
The talented player, who began as a nine-year-old at the Phillip Island YMCA, will head to the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence in Canberra shortly on a visiting scholarship, in the hope of gaining a full scholarship in July.
Since deciding to play for Eltham six years ago, his basketball has taken off.
He has become a regular participant in Victoria Country teams and played for the Dandenong Under 18s in recent years.
Faced with limited training facilities and regular trips to Melbourne for matches and training, Tristan heads to the Phillip Island YMCA most mornings for a shoot, before returning home where he is home schooled, allowing him flexibility to pursue his basketball career.
But a lack of basketball facilities in the area hasn’t held Tristan back, according to Basketball Victoria’s High Performance Coach (Country), Justin Schueller.
“He’s been very self-reliant in his training; his worth ethic, his willingness to challenge himself consistently and his coachability allows me to challenge him,” he said.
“Kids are trying to get to the higher level, but the fact he has to train by himself and push himself is a real credit to him.
“For Tristan, the last 12 months he’s really locked in to what we’ve put in place as plans and he’s definitely got the rewards. He’s being looked at for the national team, and those opportunities will open doors to college basketball.
“He’s definitely an athlete that I get regular contact from coaches over there asking where he’s at.”
Tristan, who supports the LA Lakers and lists Lakers legend Kobe Bryant as his favourite player, said he fell in love with the game of basketball at a young age.
“I think the reason I first started really enjoying it was because everyone gets a go,” he said.
“In footy you can stand out and not get the ball for three quarters, whereas in basketball you’re forced to be in the game and be part of the team.”
Originally a forward, Tristan has made the switch to the guard position in the last six months and has excelled in the role.
Schueller said he has become a tough match-up.
“He’s so powerful and as a guard he’s turned himself into a perimeter player with his power, explosiveness and athleticism,” he said.
“He’s worked so hard on his range and perimeter shot that he’s a good three-point shooter, so he’s a tough match-up in all aspects.
“The Centre of Excellence is a huge opportunity for him to be involved in a daily training environment where he’s up against the best.
“By the end of his stint there he’ll show his value as a potential Australian athlete, which is exciting for him.”