PAUL Smith has heaped praise on his “inspirational” BiG Storage Cheshire Jets star Phil Brandreth following his international call-up.
Brandreth, 23, from Ellesmere Port, was selected to play for the England Universities team after impressing coaches during tryouts in Nottingham.
He made his international bow in a convincing 99-50 win over Wales on Tuesday in a home nations tournament in Durham.
The 6ft 3ins star was set to face Ireland yesterday, after The Chronicle had gone to press, and Scotland in the final fixture later today.
Brandreth, who enjoyed a title-winning season playing for the University of Chester, will also be part of the squad that competes in the European Basketball Championships in June.
Jets head coach Smith said: “Phil’s call-up is brilliant news, it’s a real plus. All the court time he gets will be great for us.
“Hopefully we’ll have more Phil Brandreths coming through – he can be an inspiration to younger lads in the area.
“We’re short here right now with six or seven US lads. It’s great to have them, but it would be wonderful to have a big core of local lads playing for us in the coming years.”
The Jets coach has been delighted by the progress Brandreth has made since becoming a squad member three seasons ago.
“You can see it physically, he’s one of the hardest working kids I’ve ever come across,’ he said.
“We first spotted him at a summer camp and from there he became a part of the squad. He’ll be one of the first guys I’ll be re-signing.”
Brandreth, who took up basketball when he was a teenager and spent three years studying in America, hailed his call-up as the pinnacle of his young career.
“This is the best achievement of my career so far. I’m absolutely made up, it will be an honour to play for my country,” he said.
“I’ve spoken to the lads at the Jets and they’ve all told me ‘good job’.”
Jets continue their challenge for a play-off spot on Sunday with a trip to Plymouth Raiders (4pm).
Coach Paul Smith said: “They are a very well drilled team. They're well coached and backed by a vociferous home crowd.”