WARRNAMBOOL basketballer Annie Blackburn will travel to America with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).
The promising shooting guard is in the running to be offered an AIS scholarship.
Annie, 16, said while acceptance to the Canberra-based program wasn’t guaranteed, she was humbled to be considered.
“The AIS asked me to go to a tournament in America, in Los Angeles and then Texas,” she said.
“We play against different colleges and train every day so we get used to the challenges of international basketball.
“Most people say if you get asked to go to tour, they are probably going to ask you, but it’s still unknown.
“It would be pretty awesome because they only pick four girls my age to go from around Australia.”
Annie made a flying visit to Canberra today with her parents for a tour of the AIS facilities.
She will go back next Friday, spending two days learning the side’s plays before flying out for the three-week American tour.
The Warrnambool Mermaid will play 10 games in 15 days against college teams, watch an NBA game between Portland and Dallas and visit Disneyland.
Blackburn said she played with seven current AIS scholarship holders at the under 17 world championships, including fellow Vic Country player Abigail Wehrung.
The Emmanuel College student said while moving away from home would be difficult, earning an AIS scholarship would cap off a whirlwind year.
“Before nationals this year, I was a girl playing Mermaids in Warrnambool,” she said.
“I was asked to play for Australia and now there is the AIS. It’s all sudden.
“My coach Tony Gall thought I had potential and before nationals we trained most days and he helped me with my shooting.
“He thought it was a strength.”
Gall said an AIS scholarship would help Annie further develop her game in a professional environment, where she would train regularly under elite coaches and have access to world-class facilities and sports science.
“It would be terrific for her basketball,” Gall said.
“Most kids at the AIS end up in the national league or at a US college. In terms of junior basketball, it’s one of the best opportunities you are going to receive.”
Gall said Annie had attracted the attention of the AIS with impressive performances at under 16 and under 18 national level and at the under 17 world championships earlier this year.
“The basis of the AIS is future Opals and future Olympians,” he said.
“I have a lot of time for Annie as a player and she’s a really good kid. If an opportunity comes her way, she should take it up.”
Warrnambool export and Canberra Capitals guard Nicole Hunt attended the AIS in 2007.