IT WAS a 30,000km journey across the Pacific Ocean which made Jared Blanchard realise it was time to stand up.
The talented junior basketballer has a new sense of life and has vowed to step his game up another level in 2015 after a recent tour of the United States.
Blanchard returned last week from a three-week basketball tour of the US with the Australian School Sport under-18 boys team.
Despite only returning to Australia on Friday, the North Rockhampton High graduate hasn't been putting his feet up.
He has been shooting around at home during the school holidays more than ever with his focus on improving his game.
Blanchard said the tour opened his eyes with the Aussie team taking on teams featuring players who have signed with Division 1 colleges for the 2015 season.
"We versed two players who have signed with division one colleges and we couldn't stop them - they were that good," he said.
"They were just a lot more confident than me and they just go hard for the whole game.
"(I've learned that I need to) play every game like it's my last. I think when I go out there I just coast along, but I want to go harder."
Blanchard now has his sights on playing more court time for the Rockhampton Rockets in 2015.
He admits he now has a clearer picture of what is required to play at the next level.
A laid-back character, Blanchard said the tour had spurred him on to improve his game.
"It sort of made me realise that I need to put in a bit more effort - I want to train a bit more now," he said.
"Looking at the calibre of players and seeing how much better they are and that I now realise I need to do more to get to that level."
During the all-out basketball tour, the Australians took on high school teams, went to a couple of NBA matches and visited a number of the country's best basketball colleges.
On the court, Blanchard and his teammates matched their opponents, finishing with a record of 6-4 from their 10 tour matches, much to his surprise given the circumstances.
Blanchard said the officials gave the Aussies no favours and made life on court tough at times.
"I thought they were going to be a bit harder than they were," he said.
"We went six and four, but the refs were against us. The coach told us that they were really going to hammer us and they did.
"I knew they were going to be against us, but I never thought they would be as much as they were."
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