Basketball star to play for US college

Elisia Seeber, SOUND TELEGRAPHSound Telegraph

"Shoot for the stars" is the message Deseree Riley hopes to spread to other Kwinana teens this Friday, when she speaks out about her journey to being accepted to play USA college basketball.

Shooting hoops comes naturally for Riley, 19, who followed her brothers onto the courts when she was 10 years old, but her life has not been without its challenges.

She said from the moment she started bouncing the ball, she was in love with the sport.

"I built up a lot of my skills playing with my brothers, then I started playing with local teams in Rockingham," Riley said.

She said she was playing for the Rockingham Flames State side as a 16-year-old, the year her life was turned upside down when she was involved in a serious car crash.

"I was one of five people who were seriously hurt," she said.

"I had my forehead split open and suffered a fractured eye socket."

Damaging the nerves in her forehead, doctors told Riley she would have to put basketball on hold for six months.

Not knowing what to do or where to turn, she found herself at Headspace.

"They helped me get through a stage of depression in my life; if it wasn't for headspace I probably wouldn't be where I am today," she said.

Eventually Riley tied up her laces and ran back out onto the court and is now playing for the Cockburn Jets.

Her natural talent gained her an invitation to try out with NSR Australia, a basketball recruitment program, and after first missing out, she was selected for an interview and offered the opportunity of a four-year contract to live, study, and play basketball at an American college.

"I was excited and on top of the world because it has been my dream since I can remember," Riley said.

"To actually have it happen is overwhelming." She said she has her fingers crossed for a college in Chicago, with her favourite MBA team, the Chicago Bulls.

Riley said she hoped by telling her story, other teenagers who had hit a road block, would be encouraged to seek help.

"There is always someone out there who can help you and push you to where you want to be," she said.

Riley will share her story at a special Beatball event on Friday night at the Kwinana Recquatic Centre from 5.30pm to 7pm.

The organisers and services involved in the event include the Nyoongar Sports Association, Zone Youth Space, Australian Red Cross, the Wirrpanda Foundation, City of Kwinana Healthy lifestyles and Headspace Rockingham.

Get the latest news from in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails