Reyne Smith on board at Centre of Excellence

The Penguin and North-West Thunder guard left the North-West Coast on Thursday for Basketball Australia’s Centre of Excellence facility in Canberra and has already hit the ground running with training and school.

He has joined Wynyard’s Taran Armstrong, who is a member of the NBA Global Academy, in residence at the facility in the nation’s capital.

Smith said it had been a whirlwind couple of weeks to get organised after Basketball Australia showed its interest in getting the star junior on board, believing it was an opportunity too hard to pass up.

“I was pretty surprised and it took me a couple of days, I had talks with Mark (Radford), Sam Armstrong, Ben Armstrong and people around me, as well as Michael Cassidy who used to coach down here and I have a great relationship with him.

“It made my decision easier to make it official when I was off at nationals.

“It definitely helps as well to have Taran (Armstrong), someone known for most of my basketball life with me.”

Smith said had been able to get settled with a lot of support with the people running the elite program, although he new surroundings would take some time to get used to.

“I got in Thursday and had to go through security stuff, before going straight into school on Friday.

“It was very quick getting up here and into school, there are people here that help us out heaps with picking subjects and getting me into the right classes.

“It is going well and there are a lot of great people around me.

“I also had team practice on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and have spent a lot of time getting my room all organised and getting familiar with everyone.”

The move to the governing body’s national training site will also mean Smith will not be able to play for Penguin in the NWBU or the North-West Thunder in the NBL1 South competition this season.

The guard had played a valuable role for the Blues in the round one NWBU win over Smithton with 14 points and was expected to be a key piece in Sam Armstrong’s roster with the Thunder.

Smith said it was hard to decide to go off to the program and no longer play on the North-West this season, but getting to further his game at the next level took precedence.

“It is a little disappointing, I had a pretty decent role with the Thunder and Penguin, but this is an opportunity that will only come around for anyone once,” he said.

“I had to take it and I will make the most of it.

“I will still get to come home in the school holidays and if I have a weekend free and want to go home, I can still do that.”

Instead Smith will represent the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence team at state level in New South Wales.

Smith said he was looking forward to the challenge involved playing under the Basketball Australia umbrella and the other opportunities he may get.