BASKETBALLER Nathan Lemke has made history by becoming the first Colac player to get the chance to play American college basketball.
Lemke, 18, has accepted a scholarship from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and will join the Crimson Hawks for their NCAA Division Two campaign in August.
The 209-centimetre centre, who attracted attention from colleges while playing in American high school tournaments late last year, said the opportunity had felt like a dream.
“It’s all been a bit surreal, I didn’t think I’d get a chance but once I went over there a lot of the coaches started to show interest – I didn’t know how to feel,” Lemke said.
“I’m just super excited to get over there and start playing, I’m ready for the college atmosphere as well,” he said.
Lemke, the son of Colac’s Peter and Jodie Lemke and older brother of Courtney and Rhys, said the decision came down to a choice between IUP, and Division I schools University of Tennessee at Martin and New Jersey’s Monmouth University.
“IUP called a couple of weeks ago and I started talking to them, but at that time I was still talking to UT Martin and Monmouth,” he said.
“I just decided IUP was a better fit for me, they’ve got a better win record even though they’re in a lower division and they offer the major that I want to study.”
Lemke graduated from Trinity College Colac last year with an ATAR score of 90.85 and will study a bachelor of natural science in pre-chiropractic track.
He said he was happy with his choice despite not playing Division One basketball.
“Division One was the aim but the schools I had looking at me weren’t so great in the athletic department but great academically – I wanted a better athletic department and IUP had a specific coach that works with tall players,” he said.
“Division Two players, even though they get less exposure, they still have the same opportunities and if you play well enough, the NBA will find you.”
Lemke credited his success to Colac coaches Matt Lucas and Justin Williamson, Geelong Supercats coach Jamie O’Loughlin and Australian Basketball College coaches Sedale Threatt, Sedale Threatt Jr and Lanard Copeland and Darryl McDonald.
Lemke will continue training in Melbourne before leaving for Pennsylvania in mid-August.
He is the first Colac district college basketball export since Port Campbell’s Liam McInerney joined Florida’s Stetson University.