Laang teen Liam's career on rise

WARRNAMBOOL basketballer Liam Killey has pencilled in 2013 as a breakout season.

Liam, 16, is one of seven Warrnambool players who will compete at the Australian Country Junior Basketball Cup in Albury, which starts on Sunday.

A further four Warrnambool teenagers will play at the Ballarat-based Southern Cross Basketball Challenge from January 18.

Liam will don a Victorian Bushrangers' jersey in his country cup debut. It is the opening test of what the Laang teenager hopes will be a season of firsts.

The 203-centimetre power forward wants to earn Victorian under 18 selection and make the Warrnambool Seahawks' Big V squad.

Ultimately, Liam envisages a US college basketball career.

The Brauer College student has made significant improvement since he was named as an emergency for a Warrnambool under 16 representative squad as a bottom-ager.

"I started playing four or five years ago in Terang juniors and after a few seasons of that mum said I should sign up in Warrnambool," Liam said.

"I won a premiership in my first season and mum said I should try-out for squad.

"In under 16s bottom age I was an emergency and by the end of it a few had pulled out and I was playing full time."

Liam has played under Lee and Mark Primmer, Damien Bishop and Bobby Cunningham.

He said it was under Bishop when he decided to take basketball seriously.

"There was a lot of fitness work at the start and it was not easy," he said.

Liam played alongside CBL regulars Curtis Ryan, Damian Gray and Josh Dean as a bottom-age under 18 player and is learning from coach Cunningham.

"I look up to Curtis," he said.

"He plays the way I want to play. We play different games.

"Curtis is powerful and adaptable to any position.

"Bobby Cunningham has really, really helped me. I am pretty keen to go over to college.

"If I can get a scholarship it will be amazing. He wants me to get there, we do one-on-ones together."

Cunningham said Liam had "a lot of upside".

Wary of using the word potential, Cunningham said Liam had all the attributes.

"Hopefully in three or four years' time we're talking about Liam in the US, not in Australia," he said.

"He is certainly a kid with application. If he keeps applying what he's learning from Rebel (Noter), Tim (Gainey) and myself, he can go somewhere for sure.

"He is one of the most coachable kids I have come across.

"He never takes anything personally. He wants to learn."

Cunningham said Liam's shooting and court awareness had improved, while he had strong leadership skills.

"He's learnt how to play with his back to the basket a bit more," he said.

"He has to keep busting his backside, learn to take knocks at training and learn to get some out as well and throw his body around more.

"He is a big, strong boy and is starting to play like that.

"At the last few training sessions with the Seahawks he has been doing it."

Australian Country Junior Basketball Cup is from January 13 to 18, while the Southern Cross Basketball Challenge runs from January 18 to 21.

justine.mc@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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