Isabelle Bourne

Isabelle Bourne (34) pivots to keep the ball during the game against Morgan State University at the Pinnacle Bank Arena on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Head women’s basketball coach Amy Williams is a strong believer that one of the best aspects of college athletics is people uniting from all different backgrounds and working towards a common goal.

When thinking of women’s basketball players with different backgrounds, none is more different than freshman forward Isabelle Bourne.

Bourne is from Canberra, Australia and has played internationally on the Australian U-17 team and U-19 team. 

This past July, she competed with her Australian U-19 team in the 2019 FIBA Under-19 World Cup, where her team took home the silver medal. The Australian team fell to the United States in overtime in the championship game.

International experience can help a player’s versatility, adaptability and confidence. Bourne possesses all of these skills.

“That [international competition] establishes a confidence in you when you know that you’ve been up against some of the best in the world,” Williams said. “Then you have a confidence about you to be able to step in and contribute and make plays and that’s something we noticed in her right away when she got here.”

“I think being able to adjust to different styles of game is super big for me and will help me in the long run,” Bourne said.

The idea of coming to the United States to play in college was introduced to Bourne by her high performance coach in Australia. She’s been set on it ever since her coach brought it up.

Aside from Nebraska, Bourne visited Utah, Arizona State and Marquette. However, she could tell Nebraska was where she was meant to be the moment she arrived in Lincoln.

“As soon as I stepped foot here, everyone was just super welcoming,” Bourne said. “I felt at home here which is a big thing for me with being so far away from home.”

One might expect Bourne to be homesick, considering how far she is from home. Although she missed her family, Bourne had experience being away from family which assisted the transition.

Bourne hasn’t lived in her family’s house since she was 16, when she moved to the Australian Institute of Sport for two years. Following that, she moved to Geelong, Australia to play basketball there for about six months before she finally came to Nebraska.

So far this season, Bourne has gotten a good amount of playing time in her freshman campaign. 

“She’s four games into her college career, so she’s still trying to find her niche,” Williams said. 

With Nebraska’s offense and defense, players are required to learn multiple positions, making it more challenging to master, according to Williams. 

Right now, Bourne is sometimes still focusing on where she’s supposed to be. Williams said the coaching staff is observing as she begins to get the positions down and is able to make the plays without thinking.

“We’re watching as that light is really coming on,” Williams said.

Bourne has had the least amount of time to practice with the current team. The other freshmen reported in June. Bourne had commitments with the Australian U-19 team this summer, but was able to travel with the Huskers to Europe although she wasn’t able to play.

Even with Bourne’s little experience with the team, her ability to learn and contribute to the team has impressed.

“She picks things up incredibly quickly and I think that’s something we’ve really noticed as an attribute for her and we feel great about where she’s at right now and where she’s heading,” Williams said.