Tiger Girls Further Their Careers In The USA

Australia’s love affair with American college basketball was first visible back in 1989 when Tigers’ legend Andrew Gaze played a single season for Seton Hall University, losing the National Championship game watched by millions of viewers by a solitary point in a chaotic finish.

Over the ensuing 31 years hundreds of young men followed Gaze’s lead, as a trickle of recruits became a torrent.

For young women, the strength of the Australian women’s development system and a general perception that college wasn’t part of their pathway meant journeying to America as a student-athlete was the exception to the rule.

Thankfully in 2020 that imbalance is changing.

Australian Opals’ superstar Alannah Smith’s success as a student-athlete at the vaunted Stanford University was the most recent public demonstration of that adjustment and now three graduates of the Tigers Girls Program are embarking on their own college journeys.

Hannah Giddey (Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma), Sheridan Kavanagh (St. Francis College Brooklyn in New York) and Maddi Condron (University of Portland in Oregon) have all made commitments to their respective Universities.

However whilst Sheridan is not scheduled to leave until early January 2021 to start the spring semester and Maddi is heading to Portland in late 2021, Hannah is already up and running with classes and basketball in Oklahoma.

“I first started thinking of college when I was in Year 10” Hannah explained this week.

“I wasn’t 100% on it and honestly, I didn’t think I would go but I still made sure I took the right subjects in case I changed my mind. At the end of Year 12, 2019, I went on a trip to America with a girls’ team from Sydney and we played different high schools, which is where I got scouted and started actually thinking that this was something I wanted to do.”

Taking a gap year, working, travelling and University in Melbourne in 2021 was also on Hannah’s mind and in that case NBL1 and Youth League for the Tigers would have been her basketball pathway.

However it’s already apparent that college life has proved to be everything she was hoping for and more.

“I have learned that college life is completely different to life back at home,” she said.

“You have so much more responsibility and freedom as an individual which I love. The academic side of college is really good and everyone is very supportive, including my coaches. The basketball side is very intense and tough compared to back home and the facilities are amazing and something that is not comparable to university in Melbourne.”

Hannah explained that her parents were completely supportive of her decision to head to America and that she was initially taking some Sport Management classes to fit with her interest in the behind the scenes working of sport as an industry.

“A five or ten-year plan for me would definitely be finishing my full four years here at Oral Roberts and getting my degree,” she said. “ Then I want to come home and play in the NBL1 league and hopefully the WNBL at some stage.”

From a Tigers club perspective, it’s a wonderful thing to see three young women who have all taken very different pathways through the club’s program continuing their basketball adventure overseas.

“Maddi started out in the Club’s Under 16 3s team, Sheridan was never part of Victorian representative programs and Hannah made her first State team in the younger of the two State teams at Under 20 level in 2019,” Tigers Director of Coaching Tony Jackson said. “To me that’s testament to the beauty and variety of opportunities the sport of basketball offers.”

Thanks @brendanparnell for the article