NCAA Aussie Player Focus – Callie Bourne

WITH the year progressing, the National Collegiate Athlete Association (NCAA) basketball tournaments for men and women are just over a month away.

Plenty of players will be looking to make their mark, with the league well-known as one of the biggest platforms for showcasing talent in the world. Typically, the league is made up of players who have been born and bred in the system and in the United States, but there are some international imports who have impressed scouts enough to make the move overseas.

With the Australian basketball system as strong as ever, the number of Aussies in the NCAA system is growing on a yearly basis. This has allowed talent’s such as Callie Bourne to shine in the collegiate system, despite being tens of thousands of kilometres away from home.

Bourne was raised in Australia’s capital city, Canberra, and formed a bond with the sport of basketball from a very early age. Callie and her sister Isabelle were well-known around the town as the next generation of basketball talent.

Bourne was signed to WNBL team the Canberra Capitals as a development player in 2015, and spent the next two seasons training with the team and playing for the Capitals Academy side in the SEABL. She was just out of high school when she signed with Canberra, and many knew by that stage that she had a bright future in basketball ahead.

At age 19, she packed her bags and headed to the United States after accepting an offer from the Idaho State Bengals, who compete in the Big Sky NCAA league as division one side.

Bourne was given plenty of opportunity in her first season with the side in 2018-19, averaging 29 minutes a game, and starting 20 of her 30 games played. Her numbers weren’t overwhelming, but she showed crucial signs of potential and growth throughout the season and the team showed promising signs of faith in her as a player.

Having played all of her life as a guard, Bourne was forced to adapt throughout her time at the Bengals, transforming from point guard to a forward. This was due to a lack of height at the side, and Bourne proved more than capable despite being slightly undersized at 5ft 9 in.

This move saw a significant increase in her output, boosting her points and rebounds averages as she went on to produce 11.8 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game. She proved ruthless in the rebounding battle despite her lack of dominating height. She was named to the All-Sky second team for her outstandingly improved season.

She also gained confidence when the ball was in her hands, unafraid to put up a shot and averaged six more attempts from the field per game.

As she spent more time in the position, she increased her rebounding ability, and in the most recent 2020-21 season, she averaged a career-high 8.4 rebounds per game, which would impress her coaches.

She will once again suit up for the Bengals in her fourth season for the side, and having shown tremendous growth throughout her tenure for Idaho State, Bourne will be looking to take her game to the next level once again.

Photo: Idaho State University Athletics

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