WHITTLESEA teenager Riley Parkinson is excited for the experience of a lifetime in August next year as he prepares to move to the United States on a college basketball scholarship.
Parkinson was this year offered a scholarship to play for Bethel College in Kansas in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics competition.
The 18-year-old said he was inspired to follow in the footsteps of fellow Whittlesea native and current Wallan Panthers player Keenan Gorski, who also played basketball at collegiate level in the US.
“I was working out with Keenan Gorski and he was telling me how he went about it, so I did my research and set up a player profile,” Parkinson said.
“I would just follow all the coaches I could find and then I would reach out and send them my film.
“The coach at Bethel got back to me and said that they were really interested and wanted to offer me a scholarship.
“I’ve always wanted to play basketball and I’ve always wanted to go to the States, but I never really put those two together.
“After talking to Keenan and finding out how he went about college, from that moment I was set on it.”
Parkinson said he had set himself ambitious targets while in the US.
“My first goal when I go over there is to play varsity. Usually a lot of freshmen go straight to the development team, but I’m trying to work my way onto the varsity team and hopefully then start on the varsity team,” he said.
“My overall goal is to take it as far as I can, so if I can get NCAA offers from bigger schools then I’ll just have to assess at the time.”
The 183-centimetre guard said he had fallen in love with basketball quickly after taking up the sport four years ago, crediting his friends, family and Whittlesea City Basketball Association for his rapid development.
“In year eight all my friends were playing it, so I started playing for fun but then developed a passion for it and just started playing,” he said.
“I used to write down lists of who was in my class and who I had to be better than. Then I started playing domestic in Whittlesea and after two years of that I wanted to play rep basketball.
“I had a season of that before it was cancelled because of COVID, so since then I’ve just been working out every day trying to be better.
“Everyone at Whittlesea has been happy for me. They want to see me shine over there and see how far I can take it. And my parents are really excited too.”