Van the man Emerging as Britain’s best

On the up: Devon Van Oostrum in action for Great Britain
On the up: Devon Van Oostrum in action for Great Britain
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young Sheffield basketball star Devon Van Oostrum has been named British Basketball’s Emerging Athlete for 2011.

It completes a remarkable year for the former Junior Sharks point guard which saw him named to Great Britain’s EuroBasket squad in September in Lithuania and continue his progression with leading Spanish club Caja Laboral.

Van Oostrum, aged 18, is admired by Great Britain head coach Chris Finch and looks on course to make the 2012 Olympic team if he continues his current form.

Finch, who used to coach the senior Sheffield Sharks before moving to Europe and is now an assistant coach with NBA club Houston Rockets, had no hesitation in giving the dynamic Van Oostrum his chance with the British squad in Lithuania.

It came after Van Oostrum had excelled with the under 20 squad.

He said he was honoured to win the award: “I am so happy to have been awarded this title, especially since it was my first official outing with the GB senior men’s side.

“The under-20 and senior games were a great chance to play with older and more experienced players.

“I learnt a lot from them and also made some new friends along the way. Without their help I wouldn’t have won this award.”

Van Oostrum, a former Silverdale school student, averaged 13 points, seven rebounds and a tournament-high five assists per game for the under 20s in their EuroBasket before being called up by Finch.

He shone during the Olympic Test Event in August in London and had an outstanding performance against world number nine side, Australia when he sunk a crucial basket to send the game into overtime.

He then featured heavily in Lithuania, playing in three of the team’s five games lasting 23 minutes on court against eventual winners, Spain.

And it is in Spain where his immediate future lies.

The Spanish league is second only to the NBA in terms of standard and rewards. Highly rated by Laboral, which is based in the Basque city of Vittoria, Van Oostrum is currently on loan at second division club Tarragona.

Women’s player Julie Page won the British Player of the Year award.

British Basketball Performance Director Chris Spice said: “Julie and Devon have had great seasons for GB this summer and I congratulate them on their awards. They also both know the value of hard work and determination and we hope they will continue to improve and become major players in our Olympic campaign next year.”