Damon Ballantyne - 6'5 Combo Guard
From: Perth, Western Australia
Home Club: Mandurah Magic
6'5 Combo Guard, Damon Ballantyne has been a well known figure in the WA Basketball scene, representing his home state of Western Australia at Australian National Championships multiple times. In 2018, he was key member of the bronze medal WA U20 team. Damon has been one of the most talented players to come out of the Mandurah Magic program in
recent years representing them in both the WABL and SBL. Damon possess the ability to play multiple positions and his versatility is what has allowed him to be successful in so many different settings. He has a great post up game for a guard and can use his size and strength exceptionally well. He uses his timing and strength to his advantage as a slasher and if left open will also knock down the 3 point shot. He is also a great rebounder for a guard which gives him a distinct point of difference to other players in his position. Damon joined Aussie Prospects in 2017 and participated in weekly skill development sessions, the 2017 WA Invitational and 2018 USA Tour and embarked on his College recruitment journey during this time. He recently accepted a full scholarship to Green Mountain College in Vermont (NAIA I) and has just completed his first semester in the USA. We managed to get a few moments with Damon to ask a little about his journey and involvement with Aussie Prospects.
Aussie Prospects: I know you’ve only recently come back from a short break over Christmas and New Year and are busy with training, games and school so thanks for taking the time to talk to us.
Damon: No problem at all.
Aussie Prospects: You’re a local Mandurah boy and grew up playing for the Mandurah Magic in both WABL and SBL and have recently just completed your first semester of US College as a freshman at Green Mountain College in Vermont. How would you describe the difference between playing for Mandurah in the Australian system vs the US College system?
Damon: The US system is more intense and there is a lot more pressure to deal with. The trainings in College are full on, everyone fighting for a spot to play even if they are one of the star players. College offences are more one on one based than Australian basketball where it is more A to B to C. The Australian players probably think things through a little more where the American players rely a lot more on athleticism and beat their opponents with their speed and jumping ability.
Aussie Prospects: How is it you ended up at Green Mountain College? Can you share with us a bit about your recruiting journey and experience?
Damon: My recruiting journey was very up and down, from getting offers from coaches then not hearing back from them ever again. Coach Ash guided me through the recruiting process by helping me edit my draft emails to coaches and also checking my highlight tape to improve it and make it better. I created a list of schools I needed to email and checked them off each time I did it. After sending multiple emails, I received an offer from Green Mountain College. The Coach was very excited for me to come and I thought it was a perfect fit for both my education and basketball.
Aussie Prospects: You have been a part of the Aussie Prospects program since 2017 and participated in the early morning Aussie Prospects skills development sessions, the 2017 WA Invitational and the 2018 USA Tour, how do you feel these experiences impacted you and what did you feel you got out of each experience?
Damon: The Aussie Prospects program has been great for my basketball development and also my understanding of the game. I participated in the WA invitational and the USA Tour which benefited me in many ways. Playing back with my own age group after playing older players in the SBL and remembering how much faster they are and with the USA Tour to have an understanding of how Americans play which is very different to Australia. The morning workouts were always challenging with Ash but it was great learning new things and also new moves I had never accomplished before. These experiences made my basketball ability go through the roof and I appreciate Aussie Prospects and Coach Ash for the help. It has very much helped prepare me for my first year in College.
Aussie Prospects: Your basketball career has not come without a number of challenges, particularly dealing with injury. Can you share with us a little about these challenges, what you learned through those challenges and how they have shaped you into who you are today?
Damon: I have had many challenges on my journey. As a junior I snapped my ACL twice in a year, which lead to me being out of the game for two years. Those two years were a major struggle but my family and friends helped me through it. I learnt a lot through those injuries by always keeping myself motivated and living by the quote "what you put in is what you get out." Those injuries help keep me motivated in the gym even now and have taught me the importance of rehabbing because I know how hard it is to be out for a year at a time.
Aussie Prospects: If there was any advice you would give to any aspiring young Australian players whose desire it is to play US College basketball what would it be?
Damon: It never gets easier, you just get better.
Aussie Prospects: It’s been a pleasure catching up with you Damon, we wish you all the best for the remainder of your season and look forward to continuing to work with you throughout your College career.
Damon: My pleasure.