Dylan shoots for the stars

IPSWICH Basketball Club has found yet another potential England centre in the form of Dylan Johns just three years after the discovery of the towering Leigh Greenan.

Stuart Watson

IPSWICH Basketball Club has found yet another potential England centre in the form of Dylan Johns just three years after the discovery of the towering Leigh Greenan.

Colchester resident Greenan was 6ft 10in tall when first found by the club in 2005 at the relatively late age of 16.

Now almost 7ft, the 18-year-old has been capped at England Under-18 level and is currently being touted by a host of top American colleges and European clubs.

He will graduate from the Essex-based Barking Abbey basketball academy next summer knowing that, should his professional career start with a bang, he could well be in the running for a place on Great Britain's 2012 Olympics squad.

But talk at Barking Abbey is already of the new boy in town who, like Greenan, happens to have been discovered by Ipswich Basketball Club.

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Ipswich resident Dylan Johns was a rugby player at St Joseph's College last November but, owing to his then 6ft 7in frame, decided to give one of Ipswich Basketball Club's community sessions a try.

The towering teenager was rapidly snapped up by the club and, just a year later, at just 15-years-old, is already a staggering 6ft 10in.

Despite his novice status in the game, Barking Abbey have seen enough potential to take him onto their renowned academy following a change in their age boundaries.

First set-up three years ago, the programme was originally for Sixth Form pupils only, however, this year coaches on the scheme have decided to widen the project to involve promising pupils as young as Year Nine.

And although the younger players arrived in September under the pretext that they would only be used as back-up to the older members of the academy in game scenarios, Johns found himself enjoying an unexpected slice of the action last month.

Greenan had lined up as first choice centre in Barking's opening match of the season, but after picking up an early knock in the match was forced off the court.

Cue the entry of Johns in a moment that just as much signified the youngster taking on Greenan's Ipswich mantle as much as his replacement in that one match.

Barking coach Lloyd Gardiner said: “Dylan has come in here and worked particularly hard. It's been a big upheaval for him changing school, but he's been completely dedicated to his basketball. I definitely think he's got a big future.

“He's already involved with the England Under-16 set-up and is likely to be a big part of that come next summer.”

Gardiner added: “We've only been going here for three years but have already had some very good players come through the system. Nine of our former players are playing over in the States, but Leigh has got the potential to be the best we've had yet.

“Dylan potentially could be even better though so that tells you what we think of him.”

Ipswich Basketball Club coach Nick Drane is the man who found both Greenan and Johns, and he too believes Johns has something special. He said: “Barking would not be putting Dylan into a playing environment like that if they didn't see just how much potential he has got. He's an exciting young player who could go a long way.”

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