The past four years has been plenty of blood, sweat and tears shed on the hardwood by Braydan Daly, in an attempt to improve as a player.
All that hard work started to pay off this year, with the Kiama Downs talent producing his best season to date - culminated by recently winning the Illawarra Academy of Sports basketball award.
"This is my highest achievement to date because all my hard work has paid off and it is a great accomplishment to be chosen from all the basketball athletes at the IAS in my first year with them," Daly said.
"The award means more to me than you could ever imagine - it also rewards the effort my family has spent on me has paid off.
"My parents drove me from place to place for training, tryouts and games, and every time my sister Ellie came along and she cheered me on, even though she didn't want to come.
"I am truly thankful to everyone who has pushed me to be the best I can be."
Daly's journey on the court started as a nine-year-old when his parents got his little sister a basketball hoop for Christmas, seeing him "instantly falling in love" with the sport.
Not too long after this, he teamed up with the Shoalhaven Tigers.
"The Tigers have been there for me since day one - they have helped me develop as an individual and as part of a team," the 13-year-old said.
"I have been playing with some of my teammates since I started playing in Shoalhaven and have made many great friends."
That stint in the black and gold includes him winning MVP in the 2021 under 14s Southern Junior League division one boys final, in which his Tigers won 53-49 against Albury.
"I believe this has been my best season because of the IAS and how they developed my skills on and off the court," said Daly, who also won a silver medal with the IAS at April's Academy Games in Newcastle.
"I have had an awesome team surrounding me that have helped me develop as a team player and exposure to multiple amazing coaches, both with the IAS and Shoalhaven, that has assisted in my development."
As well as coaches, the Kiama High School student credits his intensive training regimen as the reason behind his continued development.
"My usual week consists of two or three basketball skilled based training sessions and at least one session of strength and conditioning," he said.
"Because of COVID-19, my training regimen has been a lot different than usual but I still go to my local outdoor basketball court and train every day.
"Other than basketball training, on Tuesdays I do strength, speed and jumping training and on Thursdays I do long-distance running with my close family friend who is a retired Australian athletics coach - who's been a huge support in my development."
Daly will use his success this year as motivation to help him achieve his career basketball goals.
"The IAS award and my success this season has been a huge step in building my confidence," the Illawarra Hawks fan said.
"I am willing to push harder to achieve even higher achievements.
"My next goals are to continue to improve my game and make new friends.
"One day I hope to be playing college basketball in the United States and play at the Olympics for Australia."
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