Nearing the end of her junior basketball pathway, New South Wales’ Cassidy McLean has a bright future ahead of her after experiencing so much of what Australian basketball has to offer.

Competing for the NSW Under-20 women at this year’s national Championships in Bendigo as a bottom-ager, McLean has taken a break from her duties with the Sydney Uni Flames in the WNBL after coming off a year in which she won a gold medal with the Australian Under-17 Sapphires.

At the conclusion of the Under-20’s, she will return to the Flames as they prepare for a finals run, having secured top spot through the regular season which has earned them home court advantage for the entire playoffs.

While not expecting to see much court time during those finals, McLean is still looking forward to the experience.

“Our team is pretty stacked, we’ve got some very good names so I’m not expecting much,” said McLean.

“Just being a part of it and sitting on the bench with them is really exciting.”

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McLean has played nine games in her debut season, tallying 17 points while shooting 32% from the field.

“My first year has been pretty exciting,” she said.

“It’s a great bunch of girls to play with and we’re going well at the moment. Hopefully we can get that Grand Final spot and then the Championship.”

Playing under coach Cheryl Chambers, a 250+ game veteran in the WNBL and past assistant coach with the Opals as well as training alongside Opal calibre talent in Leilani Mitchell and Belinda Snell, McLean says she has already noticed rapid improvement in her game.

“My defence has definitely improved. I’ve been playing against Leilani at training and she has all sorts of skills.

“Being able to guard her, I can already see the improvement. Offensively, Cheryl has focused on shooting and that has helped me a lot as well.”

Coming into the Under-20’s Championship, McLean was confident she could translate that into her game as a member of NSW.

“Going into 20’s, you are now playing against women which I am used to. Defence as a team is really important as is shooting.”

The NSW women are set for a Semi-Final clash with WA today, having finished the group stage at 4-1.

McLean is averaging 11.6 points, four rebounds and 2.6 assists through five games while her best performance came against WA when she tallied 18 points, five boards, five assists and two blocks on Wednesday.

“We were unlucky pre-tournament injury-wise and have had to have three reserves called up but those girls are great players. Off the court, we get on really well and it has been good to see that work on court as well.”

McLean helped create history last year as a part of the Under-17 Sapphires when they became the first Australian team to win the tournament while they also handed the USA their first ever loss when they defeated them in the Semi-Final.

Turning 18 this year, the guard is hoping to have more success at the domestic and international level while she is on the pathway to her ultimate dream.

“I’m hoping to continue to play WNBL and maybe for one more national junior team. Then I want to play in the WNBA and one day I want to represent the Opals.”