Big V honour for Werribee Devils young gun Darrien Herbert

Werribee Devils’ point guard Darrien Herbert has the nationals in his sights. Picture Damian Visentini

As the only Werribee Devils’ player selected for Vic Metro’s under-16 national basketball championship squad, Darrien Herbert feels a great sense of responsibility.

The exciting young point guard knows Werribee Basketball Association is counting on him to showcase the region on a national stage.

“It’s a good honour to be playing for Victoria,” Herbert said. “Being the only one from Werribee puts a lot on you because you’ve got to represent Werribee in the right way.

“It puts an impression on Werribee, and what kids from there are like.”

Herbert has gone this far because of an outstanding work ethic. The basketball-mad 15-year-old has shown great commitment to training, including 6am starts twice a week, with the National Intensive Training Program.

Herbert, who dreams of playing college basketball in the US, wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I love basketball and I’ve always loved it ever since my dad [Derek] introduced me to it,” he said. “My brother [Daniel] started playing, and was like ‘why don’t you try basketball?’

“And when I got on the court, I was like ‘this is the perfect sport for me’.”

Herbert was aged just eight, but did not play in his own age group. The Hoppers Crossing youngster was actually two age groups below bottom age and mixing it with kids four years older than him.

This helped him get used to the physicality on court.

“It put me up for more of a challenge, and I adapted to that and learned,” he said. “The kids were bigger than me, so I thought I might as well start playing like them, and it’s what’s made me what I am.”

Herbert feels indebted to the coaches at Werribee for fast-tracking his development. He takes the advice of Devils’ coaches with him each time he takes to the basketball court.

“Werribee is a really good club; it has some really good coaches, and if it wasn’t for the coaches, I wouldn’t be where I am now,” Herbert said. “They’ve been running such a good program for a while now, and they’re a great support to me.”

Herbert is looking forward to testing his skills against the best in his age group nationally.

It’s not the first time that he has travelled for basketball, but it is undoubtedly his biggest tournament so far.

Pressure comes with representing Vic Metro, but Herbert is confident that he can rise to the occasion.

“You’re coming up against the best players from the other states,” he said. “I can get effected by it [pressure], but most of the time I’m like, ‘let’s do this’ and I’m pretty cool.

“I’ve always had this saying from one of my coaches: ‘You never know who’s watching you’.

“That means you’re always going to have to be performing at your best, especially when you’re at this kind of level.”

Herbert, who plays for Heathdale Hornets at home, wants to base his game around his idol, Melbourne-born Cleveland Cavaliers’ point guard Kyrie Irving.

“He’s the kind of guard that I want to be like, the fast attacking guy and the guy that you can rely on in last minute situations,” he said.

“I want to be a point guard that has this play-making ability, so I can contribute to sharing the ball too,” he said.

In Big V basketball, Werribee Devils won both games of a home double-header in the men’s championship at the weekend. The Devils were victorious 90-81 over McKinnon Cougars in their opener on Saturday night. They then followed this up on Sunday with a nail-biting 81-77 win over Diamond Valley Eagles.

In women’s division 1, Werribee Devils pummelled Camberwell Dragons 86-52 at Eagles Stadium, with import Sumar Leslie starring with 29 points, nine rebounds and an astonishing nine steals.