Ballarat Miners captain Ryan Barnes has quit basketball.
The 23-year-old will instead pursue football at the highest level he can.
He is considering offers to join Victorian Football League clubs, country football teams and potential AFL try-outs and hoped to secure a place in a football squad within the next couple of months.
Barnes, who announced his basketball retirement yesterday, says he has achieved a lot in basketball and was ready for a new challenge.
The 197-centimetre tall Barnes said he loved representing and living in Ballarat and this was a decision he had been thinking about seriously for about the past six months.
“I’ve always had a strong passion for footy,” Barnes said.
“I’ve been playing basketball for about 18 years.
“I’m ready for a new challenge and to start fresh.
“I’ve loved my time in Ballarat and have made lots of new friends here – it’s been amazing.
“I really want to thank Ballarat Basketball Association for everything it’s done for me.”
The Ballarat Holden Miners said Barnes had spoken openly about his need for change and his leadership and athleticism would be greatly missed.
Barnes played three seasons with the Ballarat Holden Miners in the South East Australian Basketball League and was appointed captain this season.
In 79 SEABL games, including 28 this season, Barnes quickly made his mark as an outstanding defender and rebounder, who could throw down some exciting slam dunks.
Barnes won the Ray Borner Medal as the Miners most valuable player in 2011.
Recruited from Sunbury, Barnes played junior basketball with Sunbury Jets and Melbourne Tigers and represented Victoria and Australia in juniors before two years in the American college system with Texas Wesleyan College.
Barnes moved to the Minerdome to improve his game after meeting with Miners head coach Guy Molloy and assistant coach Grant Spencer.
He says the passion for basketball was still alive.
But his calling to try football is stronger.