For all the announcements, the preparation, the mountains and mountains of paperwork Orange Eagles’ head honchos have sifted through to get the club’s State League side ready, nothing quite says ‘it’s happening’ like naming a squad.
While the Eagles’ development coordinator Craig Harvey always knew he had the numbers and talent available, finally releasing the squad on Wednesday afternoon was a significant milestone for the club in their first season at the top in three decades.
The 15-man squad includes a number of Orange talent who had been plying their trade at Bathurst for years including Justin Parish, Kobe Mansell and James Gogola, while also claiming one of the best young talents in the region – Zak Simons.
We feel like this is good for us, but it’s a learning exercise, it’s a big unknown.Orange Eagles' Craig Harvey
The Blayney-based prodigy and Goldminers gun has claimed victory as part of the NSW Kookaburras under 18 side at the Australian Country Junior Basketball Cup at Albury.
Former under-18s coach Jamahl Zegzula will take the reigns of the squad.
Harvey said it was exciting to see the youth in the side, especially players who are returning to play in Orange.
It was have a flow-on effect for the Eagles’ juniors, who Harvey said now “have a pathway” to play all their basketball in Orange.
The Eagles’ two under-14 and and under-16 sides will be able to aim for the state side, and former juniors like Annis-Brown and Jayden Baker are recognisable faces for Orange’s young guns to aspire to.
Harvey also said there would be an additional seven under-18 players who will form a development squad, training and potentially travelling with the group.
“That way next year they’ll be raring to go,” Harvey said.
However, he said the youth still had “an established group” with experience around them, with Ben Gundry, Matt Chapman and skipper Mitch Selwood all with high-level experience – with Selwood having NBL and under-19 international games under his belt.
Twenty-five players tried out for the squad, and while there was still an option for five extra spots and an international recruit, Harvey said the Eagles were happy with where they sat.
“We feel like this is good for us, but it’s a learning exercise, it’s a big unknown,” he said.
“We’re not going to judge it on a win/loss ratio.
“There’s no pressure on anyone to get results, but we’re going to give it our all and leave it all on the court.”
The season begins in March.
- Orange Eagles State League squad: Kobe Mansell, Clarry Annis-Brown, Matt Chapman, Ben Gundry, Shaun Kirby, Justin Parish, James Gogala, Nick Mockler, Harry Betts, Brett Austin, Zak Simons, Jayden Baker, Andrew Manios, Mitch Selwood – captain
- Orange Eagles Development squad: Jayden Zegzula, Issac Power, Charlie Kilby, Kane Spirit-Jones, Brendon Longley, Ethan Mitchell, Karl Blashki
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