REDDITCH’S Luke Rankin is making encouraging progress in the USA as he continues his basketball journey.
Rankin, 19, jetted out to Atlanta, Georgia, shortly before Christmas to pursue his dream of becoming a professional basketball player as he began a six-month spell with an elite basketball academy which he hopes will lead to a scholarship with a US college or a professional contract.
Rankin began playing the sport during his time at St Bede’s Catholic Middle School and, having starred for Redditch Basketball Club and won honours with the West Midlands county team, he joined the Birmingham Knights Academy before being scouted to join British Basketball League side Plymouth Raiders at the age of 17.
His performances in the UK’s top under 19s league attracted the attentions of Brent Bendon, a former Knights and Raiders player who is now coaching in the States, and Rankin’s childhood dream of crossing the Atlantic to play basketball was realised.
Rankin, a 6ft 4in shooting guard from Enfield, said: “I’ve been here two months now and I’m doing really well.
“I have been awarded January 2016 player of the month for my academy and I’m also in the starting line-up in the squad.
“I’ve played two games in the UBA (Universal Basketball Association – men’s semi-professional league in America) and have played really well.”
The former St Augustine’s High School pupil added: “I’ve also visited Division Two college Columbus State University and I’m interested in going there and I have a few more college visits planned over the next few months, so I’m hopeful that I will get a scholarship for next season to return to the States.”