Mildura Heat’s two imports have arrived ahead of the Big V season getting underway next weekend.
Twenty-nine year old Janee Johnson, an American import, and 18-year-old William Burton, from Darwin, arrived in Sunraysia last Monday.
They’ve been spending their time getting to know the area, shooting plenty of hoops, and for Johnson – she’s been occupying herself with refereeing basketball at the stadium throughout the week.
Johnson hopes she is the missing puzzle piece to Mildura’s Division One Women’s team.
She first picked up a basketball competitively when she was 12 and said she hasn’t stopped playing since.
A graduate of Duke University, where she said basketball is huge, Johnson came to Australia two years ago to play basketball in Perth.
Her agent suggested she put her name forward as an import for Mildura, and Johnson, looking for a change from the familiarity of the Perth league where she was refereeing at the time, jumped at the chance.
It suited the Heat well as they needed to source an import already in Australia due to COVID restrictions.
Arriving in Mildura knowing absolutely nothing, Johnson has been made to feel right at home with the friendly people and relaxed vibe of the town.
“Everyone here is super nice and it seems like it is going to be a great environment to play basketball in,” she said.
Johnson hasn’t spent much time with her new team off the court yet, but is looking forward to getting to know them better in the future.
“After our practices, I think I will be able to bring a post presence, that this club has necessarily had before,” Johnson said.
“I’m a passer, I can score – anything of those things that are necessary to win.
“I think I will also bring some more maturity to the team also.”
While Johnson has plenty of experience on the boards, Burton, who will take the court for the Division Two Men’s team this season, is at the other end of the scale.
Looking to get out of Darwin to further his basketball experience and catch a break, he compiled a highlight reel last year and published it on his social media.
A friend saw it and forwarded it onto his now coach Calvin Henry and negotiations began.
It was exactly what Burton was looking for – and he’s extremely happy to be beginning to live his dream in Sunraysia.
“There’s no opportunity in Darwin, from what I have seen,” Burton said, adding everyone he has known to be scouted from Darwin has had to leave the area first.
Burton played at club league in Darwin for the Tracy Village Jets and said the competition was of decent standard, with each team allowed two American imports.
“From what Calvin has showed me of Mildura, it’s a small town like Darwin really,” Burton said.
“And that’s what I like so much about it – everything is within walking distance, you don’t have to drive.”
Burton’s met with his team mates already and describes them as “a bunch of good blokes”.
“I’m hoping to bring my shooting skills and speed to the team on court,” Burton said.
“Calvin would like me to learn to play the point guard position, which I am excited about learning.”
Round One will see Heat come up against Craigieburn in both fixtures, with action from 6pm at the Hothouse next Saturday night.