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PREP NOTES : Exchange Student From Down Under Can Play Above the Rim

Take notice, Pacific Coast League high schools--the Trabuco Hills basketball team now has some thunder from Down Under.

Gavin Vanderputten, a 6-foot-10, 205-pound exchange student from Perth, Australia, has enrolled at Trabuco Hills and will play center for the Mustangs, Coach Rainer Wulf said.

Wulf said Vanderputten planned to join Australia’s junior national team but decided to enroll in an exchange program because he wanted to play college basketball in the United States.

Wulf said Vanderputten is being recruited by Arizona, Cal State Fullerton, Fresno State, Idaho, Northwestern, Oregon and UC Irvine. Playing high school ball in the United States gives Vanderputten more exposure to college coaches, Wulf said.

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In fact, it was Oregon coaches who discovered Vanderputten playing in Australia and encouraged him to play his senior year in the United States, Wulf said. Trabuco Hills was one of the high schools the coaches suggested.

“We had been hearing for four years that we were going to get an exchange student,” Wulf said. “We heard we were getting one this year, then we didn’t hear anything for three months until Oregon called me and told me how good he was.”

And how good is Vanderputten? Wulf said to wait and see.

“Gavin’s very athletic and very coordinated,” said Wulf, who played professionally on Australia’s east coast in 1985. “He has played against a lot of good players over there. He grew up in the same area as (former New Mexico player) Luc Longley and has played against him.

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“I had Rick Swanwick here a few years ago, and Gavin’s much more skilled than Rick. He’s not as good as (Duke’s) Cherokee Parks, but he’s agile like Cherokee. He has a nice touch outside and can go to three-point line.

“He has been coached well down there (Australia) and adapts well to the game here. He’s not just tall, he’s mobile, and he can jump.”

Vanderputten is staying with the family of Mustang point guard Brett Poulos.

“Brett’s brother, Chad, is away at college and they had an extra bedroom,” Wulf said. “It worked out well.”

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