Coming from Australia, did you always want to come to the U.S. to play college basketball?
Yeah, I mean, since about year 10, year 11 was when I found out that I could go to college on a scholarship and get my degree that way. So, since that time [I wanted to come to the U.S.], but before that I had sort of not known that this was even an option for me so I was just going to go to university back home and get a degree that way.
What was the process like for you to learn about schools in the U.S. and basketball opportunities?
Well, initially I was approached by someone who was part of Aussie Hoops which is like this organization, they put teams together and that team will come and play over here at tournaments like super 64 where there are lots of college coaches. Then from that spot, like a lot of different little things and then I started working with this other guy and he also helps send out highlight tapes from the games I played in here so the colleges would know, sort of, what it’s like me playing against American people because I had lots of film from playing against Australians but American coaches don’t really know Australian players.
How did you get involved with Virginia and what drew your attention here?
Well overall with every college, because there’s so many colleges in America, and back home we don’t know anything about any of them really, so it was more when a college approached me that I’d look into them. So with Virginia, I had sent out a bunch of highlight tapes to schools and Virginia responded, and then from there we just started talking like through e-mail and FaceTime until they’re like ‘we want to offer you a spot’. Virginia just seemed to be the best fit, it had great academics and great basketball.
What are some of the differences between the Australian game and the American game in terms of playing style?
I’d say back home it’s a lot more speed and less aggression if that makes sense. [In Australia] there’s a lot more of we’ll pass the ball here, really fast, so that there’s an opening. I feel in America it’s a little more one-on-one where someone tries to drive and if they can’t get through, then now we’ll move the ball type of thing. But, it’s also hard to compare because I’ve played at very different levels. College is very intense, every day, whereas back home, I was playing at a high level but it was still only practice once or twice a week, with the game at the end of the week. So, with that it’s kind of hard to compare, but game wise I would say the speed and aggression is different.
Back home you played on the New South Wales U18 and U20 teams. How important are those teams and can you kind of explain what those teams are?
Going to those tournaments where I play for New South Wales, that is where they select for the Australian national team. So, in that aspect it’s really important. You get selected out of your state, so you have to be in the top 10 or 15 in your state. Then you’ll play the other states, so it’s a pretty high level.
What has been the biggest transition life-wise coming from Australia to Virginia?
I’m definitely having to grow up and just have to take on a lot more responsibility. Back home I would have my family to lean on. So, coming here I am also in that transition where you’re going from being a child to an adult, so that’s been a lot more responsibilities put on me. I’ve had to learn how to do things without some of that support, because I still talk to my family, but it’s not the same as being able to go and talk to them in person.
How would you describe your game?
I wouldn’t say it’s like a show game. I wouldn’t say I have really cool moves or anything but it gets the job done. So, before each game and I try and tell myself one thing that I’m going to work on. That’s something that I learned back home, was to find a controllable, something in the game that you can control. So, making a certain amount of points, you can’t control because you don’t know the ball is going to go in every time, but you can control how much effort you put in, how you support your team, stuff like that. So, for me right now, I’m all about really supporting my team and making sure that even though we might be down, that there is still time, we can push through and get that win.
Who have you grown close with on the team to kind of establish that home and support system here?
I would say I’m really close to the first years. There’s quite a few of us and we’re a big class. We all came in new, not really knowing what’s going on, so it was easy to relate that way. Then, our upperclassmen have been really helpful, but I’d say I’m probably the closest with Fe and Dani, because I don’t know, sometimes you just become close with certain people and I found that they really helped my transition.