University enters intervarsity competition for
the first time

Zoe Banks is looking forward to the opportunity to try out for the University of Tasmania team to play in the University Basketball League in 2023. (PHOTO: Supplied)

Tasmanian-based basketball players will now have a new pathway to participate in elite competition across Australia.

The University of Tasmania has been included in the University Basketball League (UBL) from 2023, which means current and future students will have the chance to play an intervarsity level competition.

The University’s Sport Operations Manager Anthony Jusup said the inclusion of a men’s and women’s team in the UBL mean new opportunities for players, coaches and more.

“This program gives students the opportunity to experience a semi-professional level and a pathway to future opportunities such as WNBL1/NBL1 and then WNBL/NBL,” he said.

“The program also offers the chance for integrated learning for media students assisting in the live streaming and commentating of home games, exercise science students supporting players with a range of testing, developing athlete programs, and even physiotherapists working on game days.”

The University will have a program of between 40 and 50 male and female players, from which men’s and women’s squads of 16 will be chosen for games.

Team selection is yet to take place, but the first round of trials will begin on December 13 in Hobart and December 15 in Launceston.

The move into the UBL follows on from the University partnering with Swisherr Hoops Academy in 2021 to focus on student pathways, student experience, athlete development and delivery of a high-quality university-based basketball program.

Swisherr founder Mark Nash said there was growing excitement from current, and incoming, University of Tasmania students about the program.

“Student-athletes will have an enhanced training environment, with access to resources otherwise unavailable in Tasmania,” Nash said.

“We are aware of a number of incoming UTAS students for 2023 who have decided to stay in Tasmania rather than move interstate or overseas due to the UBL and broader basketball program.”

“Swisher has more than 300 high school age students in athlete development programs in 2022, with clear sport and educational pathways to further study at the University in future years.”

Nash said the success of the JackJumpers on and off the court had been significant for the growth in interest in basketball in the state.

“More Tasmanians are choosing to play basketball at all levels, and we expect this participation growth to continue at an exponential rate for years to come,” he said.

Young basketballer Zoe Banks said she had been talking to colleges in the United States about her future in the sport before hearing about the UBL.

“But once I heard about this program, I decided to stay close to home and participate in the UBL with UTAS which has allowed me to study the degree I want to and still play basketball at a very high level,” she said.

She said not only does she hope to complete a degree in medicine, but to also someday play in the WNBL.

Jusup said it was good to see Year 12s choosing to stay in Tasmania and study at the University rather than looking at studying interstate, and even overseas, because of the move into the UBL.

“This is a great chance for Tasmanian students to play at a competitive level and to experience what it’s like to play at that professional level, while they remain in the state to pursue their studies,” he said.

“A few weeks ago, we had an information session where 70 Year 11 and 12 students attended and at least five of those have since enrolled with UTAS due to the UBL opportunity.”

“Going from our recent success at the UniSport Nationals, where the men’s team finished fifth in the first division, I believe there will be several students who played in those teams who will be selected in the 2023 UBL team.”

In April this year the University played host to the UniSport Nationals 3×3 Basketball championships,
which attracted teams from UniSport’s 43 member universities in men’s and women’s competitions.

Students interested in taking part in the first round of trials for the 2023 teams, but who are unable to attend the trial days, can still apply through expressions of interest to be a part of the Swisherr athlete development program.

The competition is expected to be a nine-week roster, with four or five home games, at least one of
which will be played in the Launceston.

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