Barker in US for next chap­ter

Alpine Observer - - Classifieds -

By CAM POT­TER

A FA­MIL­IAR face around Wan­garatta Bas­ket­ball is in the United States com­plet­ing the next stage of his bas­ket­ball jour­ney.

Bright-born and raised, but Wan­garatta Bas­ket­ball ju­nior Jalen Barker is about to be­gin his fresh­man sea­son with South­east Com­mu­nity Col­lege in Ne­braska, USA.

The six foot two point guard has quite the re­sume on the court.

Barker played from un­der 12s to un­der 18s in the Wan­garatta War­riors pro­gram, and com­bined this with play­ing for the Nu­nawad­ing Spec­tres in the Vic­to­rian Ju­nior Bas­ket­ball League.

He was awarded the Keith Jenk­ins Award when he grad­u­ated the un­der 18 pro­gram at Nu­nawad­ing.

Barker rep­re­sented Vic­to­ria Coun­try in the un­der 14s, 15s and un­der 16s and spent time with the North East Bushrangers in the Big V com­pe­ti­tion and suited up for ‘home’ CBL team Myrtle­ford in 2017-18.

He capped off his play­ing time at Nu­nawad­ing by win­ning the youth league cham­pi­onship in the un­der 20s com­pe­ti­tion which he won days be­fore he ex­pected to be­gin his school­ing in the United States.

Barker was also a mem­ber of the di­vi­sion one win­ning Rowville Sec­ondary School bas­ket­ball team.

To get to South­east Com­mu­nity Col­lege on a bas­ket­ball schol­ar­ship hasn’t been an easy process ac­cord­ing to Michelle Barker.

“It re­ally came down to who we know,” Michelle said.

“Les Stevens coached Jalen at Myrtle­ford and it just so hap­pened that Les’ daugh­ter, Monique, also went to South­east so that was the foot in the door.

“Brodie Townsend from Mount Beauty is also a stu­dent at South­east and that helped get Jalen in as well.

“We had sent videos to all the col­leges and paid for a Col­lege Re­cruit­ment sub­scrip­tion but only re­ceived of­fers from di­vi­sion three col­leges; which are not al­lowed to award sport­ing schol­ar­ships.

“We had to wait for the doors to be opened for us, but it was all worth it now.”

Michelle said Jalen has had to grow up quickly in the past cou­ple of years which she said will be an ad­van­tage.

“Jalen lived by him­self in Melbourne at 16, as well as board­ing with a fam­ily, when he was at Rowville and play­ing for the Spec­tres,” she said.

“He’s only been over there for two months but I don’t think he will get home­sick at all.

“He is find­ing the study load easy enough to man­age; he’s en­joy­ing it, he’s get­ting good marks but I wouldn’t class him as a scholar.”

Jalen is a pass-first point guard and has taken some time to de­velop his game to the Amer­i­can sys­tem with the coaches push­ing him to take more shots.

“The prac­tice matches are out of the way now and he’s worked his way to the back up point guard po­si­tion,” Michelle said.

“He had to com­pete pretty hard with some of the other boys.

“I think the big­gest thing was that he likes to set up the play for the oth­ers and get the right guys in the right po­si­tions.”

Michelle said Jalen doesn’t know what his plan is with South­east Com- mu­nity Col­lege, a feeder to the di­vi­sion one col­lege, Univer­sity of Ne­braska, Lin­coln.

“He isn’t sure of his fu­ture; at the mo­ment he is just en­joy­ing be­ing over there,” she said.

“He went over there with­out any ex­pec­ta­tions.

“It can hap­pen with the trans­fer to the Univer­sity of Ne­braska, but I’m not sure if he is think­ing the full four years (of col­lege el­i­gi­bil­ity) or not.”

IM­PRES­SIVE: Jalen Barker in ac­tion for Nu­nawad­ing.

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