Isabel Palmer was faced with an unexpected choice midway through the year.
After being picked up by the AIS, the Adamstown 16-year-old basketballer, with an Australian father and American mother, had to swear national allegiances.
Despite being initially confronting, the Newcastle Hunters product said the decision was simple in the end.
“I knew,” Palmer said.
“I’ve grown up playing basketball here and I want to play for Australia. It will be such an honour to put on the green and gold uniform.”
The former St Francis Xavier’s College high school student will wear the country’s green and gold sporting colours for the first time this week, representing the Australian Sapphires at the FIBA Under-16 Asian Championship in India.
Competition in Bengalaru, where fellow Newcastle export Katie Ebzery played for the Opals in July, tipped off Sunday and goes through until Saturday with a top-four spot earning qualification into next year’s under-17 World Cup.
Australia faces China, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong and Thailand throughout the tournament.
“I expect it to be a challenge,” Palmer said.
“The Asian teams like Japan are tough and really competitive. We’ll have to put our best foot forward.”
If the Sapphires progress they will try and defend the international title won by Australia last year, including Novocastrian pair Cassidy McLean and Lara McSpadden.
Palmer has been based in Canberra the past few months.
“Katie [Ebzery] did something pretty similar to me and went there [AIS] at 15, and now she plays in the WNBL and has played overseas,” Palmer said.
“They are both things I want to do.”
The point and shooting guard dreams of reaching the Olympics and playing in the WNBA.
US College is also on the cards with Palmer’s father Dan meeting mother Marie while playing basketball in Florida.
Palmer was born in America, but the family relocated to Newcastle when she was four-months-old.
Despite trying “everything” from tennis to nippers and dancing – there was no turning back after debuting on the Hunters home court as a four-and-a-half-year-old at introductory development program Aussie Hoops.
“I tried lots of different sports but I really enjoyed basketball,” she said.
Palmer’s brother Brendan played for Newcastle at the recent under-14 national championships in Melbourne.