REPUTATIONS will be forged and careers ignited when the Bendigo Junior Classic tips-off this Friday.
More than 260 teams from across Victoria will vie for honours in under-12 to under-20 competitions across three days at Bendigo Stadium.
They include 28 teams representing the Bendigo Braves, with most expected to be strong title contenders
Bendigo Basketball director of coaching and athlete development Joe Hurst said the tournament would undoubtedly be a turning point in the careers of some young talented basketballers.
“It is one of those occasions where dreams and success stories start to happen,” he said.
“Andrew Bogut, Liz Cambage and Lauren Jackson, they have all been through these tournaments, so this is where the journey begins.
“Australian basketball at the grassroots is as strong as I have ever seen it – I’m amazed at how strong the interest and skill level is at the grassroots.”
The 2018 Classic will be especially exciting for the former NBL legend and 1998 league MVP as his first in his new role with Bendigo Basketball.
This time 12 months ago, Hurst was attempting to plot the Braves’ downfall in his role with the Mildura Basketball Association and junior Heat teams.
“I am pretty keen to get out and mingle with the coaches and give them some feedback and encouragement and whatever else is necessary to ensure some success,” he said.
“(The Braves) generally fare pretty well at this tournament.
“Obviously I have only been in Bendigo for just on 12 months, so I was on the other side coming in here trying to knock them off with Mildura, but that was easier said than done because the Bendigo teams are very strong at home.”
The tournament is held annually on the Australia Day weekend.
It is anticipated more than 6000 players, coaches, officials and family members will descend on Bendigo for the three-days.