WILLIAM Smythe admits he is still pinching himself following his selection in the Victorian Country under-18 team for the 2019 Australian Junior Championships.
This time last year the now 16-year-old had never been picked in a state team and was playing with the Bendigo Braves under-18 B team.
But following an impressive 12 months the blossoming Braves centre finds himself preparing for a national championships tilt in Townsville from April 13-20.
Smythe is another classic example of when hard work pays off.
The son of Braves junior coach Charlie Smythe, William – or ‘Billy’ – readily recalls being overlooked for selection in the Braves’ under-14 squads when he first tried out.
A season later he won a place in the under-14 C team and has continued to steadily work his way through the grades and age groups en-route to becoming a state player.
“That was where it really kicked off, that under-14 C team,” Smythe said.
“I can say now that I wasn’t that good when I started out, but as the season have gone on I have developed.
“I’m lucky to have had coaches get me to where I am …. I’ve always had goals.”
Smythe credits much of his development from a Braves B to A squad member and now state representative to a switch in position.
“When I was bottom age I didn’t play centre, I played more of a guard position, but I was still fairly tall at six foot three. I’m six foot seven now,” he said.
“That growth spurt has led to a change in where I play.
“But I also hit the stadium pretty hard, putting up a lot of shots, or anything else I could do to get better.
“I have benefited from good advice from one of my coaches Kenny Day, he’s pretty much taken me under his wing and I have learnt so much from him.
“My coaches this year Ben McCauley and Justin Cass have also had a big role in my success, and dad too. He’s always wanted me to succeed and spent a lot of time with me working on my game.”
Smythe is coming off an impressive Bendigo Junior Classic tournament, where he averaged nearly 14 points for a Braves team, which made it to the grand final but was beaten by Ballarat Miners.
His team-mate Dyson Daniels has also been picked in the Victoria Country team, while another Dylan McCauley has been selected as an emergency.
The Braves will be hoping to turn the tables on Ballarat when the state under-18 championships are contested in Bendigo this weekend.
Smythe, a year 11-12 student at Bendigo Senior Secondary College, plans on making the most of his national championships opportunity.
“Getting to play with and against the best (under-18) players is all you want to do,” he said.
“It will be great having Dyson there – he’s a great player and a good team-mate.
“I have played with him for a couple of seasons and against him a lot.
“It’s going to be a very tough competition, but we will give it our best and should go pretty far in the tournament.”
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