SHARING the court with a former WNBL player is the ideal learning tool for budding basketballer Meg Carlin.
The teenage prospect pays close attention to how Katie O'Keefe conducts herself on the floor.
The fact Carlin, 16, plays in two different teams with O'Keefe is a bonus.
The pair will form part of the Warrnambool Mermaids' roster in Saturday's Country Basketball League grand final against Portland Coasters in Horsham.
Carlin is also embracing the chance to play with O'Keefe - the Mermaids' CBL coach - in domestic competition each Monday.
"I think now having Katie in my domestic team is really going to improve my game," she said.
"Just our pick-and-rolls and the way she plays, I can learn off that. I think it's really helping."
Carlin is among a host of Mermaids' under 18 players in the CBL grand final team.
"I am personally really excited because it is my first CBL season and many of the other young girls' first season as well," she said.
"I think we are very grateful to play, as well as with the older girls like Molly McKinnon, Katie O'Keefe, Ava Bishop and Leah Bartlett."
Basketball - a sport curtailed during COVID-19 restrictions due to its indoor use - has bounced back this summer.
It's meant a jam-packed schedule for players like Carlin, who mixes the senior CBL competition with junior squad tournaments.
"With CBL and squad, it's mixed seasons so we travel a lot and a bit of everywhere," Carlin said. "I have 80 hours (on my L-plates)."
The under 18 team's next challenge is the Basketball Victoria country championships in Bendigo on February 19-20.
"I think it will give us a real good run for our money," Carlin said.
"We have a few tough games in our pool which will definitely test us but it should be a good weekend and hopefully it will come with a good result."
Carlin - a Warrnambool College year 11 student keen on a career in nursing or paramedicine - also plays netball for Hampden league club Koroit.
"Mum (Gemma) was a netballer. I get my netball from her and basketball from dad (Bernie)," she said.
"I started because dad was a basketballer back in the day. He used to play in Melbourne and then he came down and played domestic. I have his height."
Carlin usually plays two games of netball - a junior grade and a senior grade - each Saturday during winter.
"I would love to play a few open games," she said of the 2022 season which starts in April.
"I did get two or three last year which I was pretty happy with but I do love div one, which I played mostly last season, and that was really enjoyable too. I'd be happy with either."
Both sports provide Carlin with an outlet from work - she's a casual at McDonald's - and study.
"I love to get my mind off things and enjoy it with the girls around me," she said.
"We have such a good team, both squad and CBL, and you always have a good laugh at training."
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