FOR A 12-year-old rubbing shoulders with opponents almost twice his age, Jaylen Brown wasn’t lacking any confidence.
The Warrnambool student made the most of limited minutes on court with Victoria’s Kevin Coombs Cup team to earn a bronze medal at the national championship carnival.
He was the youngest player in the squad of 10, while his mother, Warrnambool Mermaids mentor Louise Brown, was a first-time assistant coach with the wheelchair basketball side.
The St Pius Primary School student was an important figure as Victoria toppled New South Wales by 38 points to secure the third-place berth.
Louise described the experience as a “learning curve” for both herself and her son.
“It was the third one we’ve been too, but for the first two, Jaylen has been playing for Queensland,” she said.
“It was my first experience as an assistant coach. I’m still new to the wheelchair basketball game from a coaching perspective, so I’m a bit of a rookie.
“We both learned heaps and we really enjoyed it.”
She said Jaylen remained a fierce competitor but would have to step up his training regimen if he was to take his wheelchair basketball game further.
Louise said selectors for the next under 23 world championships would begin the hunt for talents across the nation after the conclusion of this year’s tournament.
“Jaylen was in the extended squad for the 2017 world championships, but that’s been cut right down now,” she said.
“He’ll probably have a bit of time off wheelchair basketball and just play the able-bodied game for a bit.
“He’ll keep playing wheelchair basketball locally but not on a representative level.
“If he wants to keep going with (wheelchair basketball) he’ll have to make a commitment to stick to a disciplined training program.”
However, she said Jaylen’s desire to win made him difficult to write off.
Louise said Jaylen had grown as a player at the Kevin Coombs Cup and continued to improve his all-round game.
“He doesn’t have any issues with confidence,” she laughed.
“Sometimes he has to be brought back a peg or two. Playing against the older guys doesn’t seem to bother him, he’ll take them on.
“He’s fearless. He’s also a competitor, he wants to win at all costs.”
Warrnambool prospects Jay Rantall and Liam Herbert also traveled to Townsville, helping Victoria Country to a seventh-place finish at the under 18 titles.
Hamilton’s Abby Sutherland, who will line up with the Mermaids within the next month, claimed gold with the Victoria Country women’s side.