Maddison Rocci is a world away from the fierce backyard basketball battles with brothers Kristian and Lucas.

Those contests, which “used to end in tears” on occasions, went some way to shaping her into the strong-willed player she is today.

Things are very different these days for Rocci, now a scholarship holder at the Australian Institute of Sport’s Basketball Centre of Excellence in Canberra, but the memories are still strong.

“We always used to go at it with each other,” Rocci said with laugh. “We used to have plenty of battles in the backyard.”

From little things, big things grow, and Rocci has matured into one of Wyndham’s most promising young basketball prospects.

The 18-year-old can see her game evolving by the day as she is involved in a number of elite programs, including the Australian Development Camp, the Basketball Australia national performance program and the AIS women’s team.

“When I got the call-up, I was pretty scared at first,” Rocci said. “But once it all kicked in and I knew that coming up here was going to help me improve my game, make me stronger in the gym, my skills, my shooting, it’s been the best thing for me.”

The end goal for the Werribee product is the biggest stage of all, the Olympics Games.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and seeing the Opals [Australia’s women’s basketball team] training here has inspired me so much,” she said.

“I’d love to play in the WNBL and if I ever got the opportunity to play WNBA, I’d love to.”

Rocci started playing basketball in the under-12s. Before that, she was focused on dancing and netball, turning to basketball only after watching older brother Kristian play.

It was a decision which reaped immediate rewards, as Rocci made the Victorian under-12 school team, represented the Big V every season beyond that and played for Australia at under-17 level.

A huge influence for Rocci was the coaches at her home club, Werribee Devils.

“They got me to where I am today … they made me a better person and a better player. All my coaches from under-12 to under-18 helped me so much.”

Rocci is a point guard known for her speed around the court and is a strong defender. She continues to work on her shooting but it does not hold her back.

“I’m more of a point guard who drives to the basket and makes decisions when to pass to an open shooter,” Rocci said.

“My defence over the full court has improved. You have to know how to defend or it won’t get you anywhere.”

Rocci is the monthly nominee for the Don Deeble Rising Star Award, which recognises young athletes in the western suburbs who have achieved outstanding results at a state and/or national level.

The award is run by Sunshine Western Region Sports Club and Star Weekly.

Rocci will receive $1000 donated by the Yarraville Club Cricket Club and other prizes to assist in her future sporting goals.

To nominate someone for the Don Deeble Rising Star Award, email ljenkinson@starweekly.com.au