Jade on cusp of green and gold

Traralgon basketballer Jade Melbourne is one step away from making the national under-17 team for the world championships in Belarus. photograph hayley mills

Traralgon basketballer Jade Melbourne is one step away from making the national under-17 team for the world championships in Belarus. photograph hayley mills

BASKETBALL

When Jade Melbourne journeyed to India last year she well and truly caught the travel bug.

The Traralgon resident went to Bangalore as part of the Australian Sapphires under-16 squad for the FIBA U16 Asia Championships and returned home with a gold medal for her troubles.

The title win meant the Sapphires qualified for this year's under-17 World Championships and Jade has her sights firmly set on another international trip – this time to Belarus.

She is one of 16 in the national squad and will make one last trip to the AIS this week in hopes of being selected in the final starting 12.

"I'm feeling confident going into the camp. You've got to be confident if you're going to have any chance," Jade said.

"Putting on the green and gold in India was such a crazy feeling and it makes you want to travel more and more for those sort of opportunities."

At just 15, the Lavalla Catholic College student is one of only two bottom-agers in the preliminary squad of 16 but isn't fazed by it in the slightest.

"I don't think about being one of the youngest at all," she said.

"They've picked me for a purpose so I'll just go out there and do my thing and see what happens."

Mum Sharon said Jade, though just a teenager, was very much in charge of her own destiny.

"I really don't do a lot, I just take her to where she needs to be," Sharon said.

"She's confident, she takes on every single challenge and she's just really self-motivated and makes the most of what she's got."

As a guard, either point or shooting, Jade's role is to "bring energy, create smothers and get some points", and Sharon said she takes it all in her stride.

"It's a really big thing to be where she is and I think it's a pretty massive achievement," she said.

"But she's level-headed, she trains hard and has earned her opportunity to be where she is ... we're just really proud of the way she goes about it."

Jade is a crucial cog in the Latrobe City Energy's Big V division one side and tops the roster with an average of 16.4 points per game.

She is also a leader in Energy's under-18 Victorian Championship side and netted 28 points in her last run out. 

Already a verified Sapphire and with more to still achieve at underage level, Jade is already eyeing off Opal status.

"I'll finish school and then college basketball will be the next big goal, but I want to play for the Opals in the Olympics," she said.

"Then I want to make it to the WNBA."

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