Winmalee basketballer Ty Mitchell had never played basketball until two years ago, but this week he will be heading to the US on a basketball scholarship.
The 17-year-old will finish the final year of high school at a basketball academy in Florida.
It has been a whirlwind for Mitchell, and he has been excitedly counting down the days, thanks to a smartphone app, until he jets off.
“I am more nervous about the fact I am leaving because I won't see my family but basketball wise I am very excited,” he said.
Mitchell plays representative basketball with Springwood in Hawkesbury District Basketball Association’s local competition.
The association has been more than helpful to Mitchell. He said president Peter Herrman and one of the club’s coaches, Rachel Borysko, played a big part in his development and in initially starting to play the sport.
I am more nervous about the fact I am leaving because I won't see my family but basketball wise I am very excited.
“Peter has always been there ever since I started and he has always been really supportive of me,” he said.
“Rachel has been very supportive and a good coach, so I am grateful to them.”
Goran Veg, who helped mentor gun Hawkesbury basketballer Liam Moss, has also assisted Mitchell along the way.
Mitchell’s basketball rise has been meteoric.
Two years ago he had never played the sport short of dabbling in the backyard with a hoop.
“I was always a shy kid, I never wanted to talk to anyone and never thought I could do it,” he said.
A gentle nudge from his mum, Leigh, into playing the sport, along with support from friend, Damien English, and he took to the sport like a duck to water.
For whatever reason Mitchell has a ton of natural ability, and coaches and fellow players noticed it quickly, encouraging him to investigate scholarships.
About the same time he started playing, Mitchell shot up, and now stands an imposing 196cm.
“I was always the shortest up until the end of year 9 and then by year 10 I was about six foot,” he said.
Despite his natural ability, he said a few years ago, there was not a chance he would have even considered playing.
“I went through a phase where it was just drawing and art,” he said.