Promising basketballer California-bound

Year 12 student Jack Whitbourn stands tall at 6’11” (210 cm), but it is not just his height that has led to him being a crucial member of the Australian team that won an international basketball tournament this year. Renowned for his ‘high basketball IQ’, Jack brings so much more to the game.

Bliss on the court

It has been a stellar year for Jack who only began playing basketball when he was in Year 7.

His many achievements include being part of the Australian team that won the 2023 FIBA U17 Oceania Championships.

That win gets the team into the 2024 FIBA U18 Asian Championships, in which Jack will still be young enough to play.

“Then, if our team comes in the top four in the Asian Championships, we qualify for the 2025 U19 World Cup,” he explains. “I need to get re-selected for each competition along the way, but I really want to be there.”

“I love basketball so much – it’s the one thing I enjoy more than anything else in my life,” says Jack who normally plays in centre position. “Anytime I can get on the court I will, because that’s what I love to do.”

Describing the feeling of being on the court as “bliss”, Jack says that he loves to win, but he wants to win fairly.

“I try to respect those who have worn the jersey before me, the opposition, and the umpire as much as I respect the game.”

College in the US

An impromptu training session organised by his coach earlier this year turned out to be his ticket to the US. “I walked in and realised there were college coaches there,” says Jack.

Having impressed Mike Magpayo, the head coach from University of California, Riverside, Jack and his family were flown to California to discuss a basketball scholarship.

“I got to meet the team and staff, and saw the college itself, which has a beautiful campus,” says Jack. “I’ll only be 18 when I go over there, and that’s a big thing for me, being away from my family. But everyone was super nice and straight-forward, so I said, ‘Let’s do it’.”

Basketball dreams

Making the NBA is the main goal for any basketballer, as it is for Jack, but he says that representing Australia at the Olympics is his ultimate dream.

“When I first heard that I made the Australian team for the Oceania tournament, my dad and I embraced each other and I began tearing up because it was so important to me,” says Jack. “When I put on the jersey and sang the national anthem, it was such a special feeling.”