James Whitby (right) confronts a defensive screen while playing for the Ballina Breakers in the State League.
James Whitby (right) confronts a defensive screen while playing for the Ballina Breakers in the State League. Tarum Images

US next step for star MVP

JAMES WHITBY will scoop the NSW State League basektball men’s awards in Newcastle tomorrow.

The 18-year-old Ballina Breakers star is set to collect the League MVP and leading point-scorer awards and be named in the All Star first five alongside Sam Bresnick (Queanbeyan), Wayne Brown (Maitland), Mathew McCoy (Macarthur) and Robbie Linton (Coffs Harbour).

Whitby, who will double as part of the Lismore Storm women’s cheer squad in Newcastle, wasn’t expecting to be recognised as the best player in the league this early in his career.

“I was really hoping to make the All Star five but to be named MVP is unbelievable – especially at my age,” he said.

Whitby’s point-scoring average of 28.9 was head and shoulders above the rest of the league with the next best, Newcastle’s David Richards, returning 21.9.

Whitby was the standout scorer in the northern pool of the State League but came back to the field when the Breakers entered the finals.

“It’s a different story when you go down there and take on all the ex-NBL players – I only managed 18 or 19 in the finals – but I am happy to secure the award,” he said.

One of those ex-NBL players, Coffs Harbour’s Matt Shanahan, is doing his best to help Whitby secure a scholarship with a junior college in the United States.

“Matty has talked to a couple and it looks like there are two schools interested – one in LA and one in San Diego,” Whitby said.

The sharp-shooting swing-man, who missed a handful of Breakers games after being injured playing rugby league for Marist Brothers in the NRRRL, could be on his way to the US as soon as next month.

“Yeah, I think that will be the end of playing footy for me for a while, especially if I get a scholarship,” he said.

Lismore Storm women’s star Tami Willey will also be honoured at the finals weekend in Newcastle – her average of 23.7 points a game making her the most prolific in the women’s State League.



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