BRAD COLE THE ADVOCATE The basketball careers of Tre Armstrong, Kobe Jackson and Shelby Rayner have all been affected following the coronavirus outbreak in Australia and in the US.
With their US colleges shut down, Armstrong and Jackson are among a number of Tasmanian players who have returned home, and are both currently in the midst of a 14-day self isolation period.
However, for Rayner, the waiting game is based around when she can leave Tasmania to embark on her first year at California Baptist University.
Armstrong said his decision to return home from CBU was made easy by the coaching staff.
“They told all the guys from overseas to book a one-way ticket because they didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said.
“All our school stuff would be worked out for us once we got home.”
“I was excited to come home, I haven’t been back since early August, but I thought it would be a little more normal back here and I would come back to a NWBU season and a NBL1 season.
“But there is none of that now.”
While Armstrong’s team weren’t in the mix to qualify for the March Madness tournament, they still had their season cut short.
“We had been invited to play in a post-season tournament and was scheduled to play a home game a few days after they cancelled everything,” Armstrong said.
“We had been practicing as normal, but but in our minds we knew that there was a fair chance we wouldn’t be playing.”
Fortunately for Jackson, his debut season at Minot State University in North Dakota had come to a conclusion.
But like Armstrong, Jackson didn’t need too much convincing that coming home to the North-West Coast was the best thing to do.
“When I heard that there was the possibility that we could come home from our coaches, I started to pack my bags,” he said.
“If it gets too serious I would rather be stuck in Australia than stuck in the US.
“There were 2-3 cases (of coronavirus) within the county I was located in, and when that second case got confirmed, our school went to online learning.
“Our season finished about a month ago, but on the same day our school shut down, the NBA shut down as well.
“There was a lot going on, it was crazy and everyone was panicking.”
While Armstrong and Jackson are back with family and friends for a while, Rayner is hoping the pandemic can clear in the coming months so she can begin her journey.
She said the lack of time out on the court was the most frustrating part of the shutdown.
“I had planned to head off in early August but it’s just a waiting game for me now,” Rayner said.
“It depends on how far things progress in the US, but hopefully it should be fine by then and I’m trying to stay positive about it all.
“I’ve got a ring at home I can get some shots on, along with some weights, so my brother and I have some weight sessions planned and I can still do some ball handling stuff.
“But getting out and playing games is what I’m missing most.”
Armstrong and Jackson are also working out how to stay in basketball shape, with off-season practice schedules at their respective colleges cancelled.
Both had plans to hit the court back home, but they have now been shelved.
“Back at school they were hoping to get a waiver produced for me so I could play NBL1 with the North-West Thunder because we were missing our spring workouts, which is a big part of our preparation,” Armstrong said.
“It would have been awesome but it won’t be happening now.”
“Coming back I was planning to play a few NWBU games, but when I got here it all got cancelled,” Jackson added.
“So now I will try and get a lot of ball-handling drills in and because I’ve got nothing else to do, it’s given me more reason to get out and practice and fine-tune my game in readiness for next season.”