Devon Van Oostrum is the baby of Great Britain’s squad for EuroBasket. But he’s already wise beyond his years.

Sitting in the lobby of the team’s hotel in Riga, their penultimate stop before travelling onward to their base camp in Lithuania, the Sheffield-raised point guard looks every bit of his 18 years: hood up, pants baggy, attitude not yet sculpted by the demands to conform.

Innocence might be a virtue, or so you might think, as the kid who spent last season learning his trade in what is effectively Spain’s fifth division prepares to take his turn as part of the GB PG by committee along side Andrew Lawrence and Ogo Adegboye.

Few expected that it would be these exact dozen players who departed on a three-hour bus ride to Panevezys on Monday. “I’ve learnt that every year throws up surprises,” admitted coach Chris Finch.

None more, perhaps, than the raw prospect known as DVO. Except, he states, to himself.

“I set that out as one of my targets: to make the GB team, especially with EuroBasket coming up,” he reveals. “It’s a great opportunity. Coach has given me that. Sometimes I did well, sometimes I haven’t. But he’s liked what I brought to the team. And I’m still here.

“I don’t want to use my age as an excuse. I just want to prove I belong along side these other players. I don’t want to think how these guys are six years older than me. I just have to go out and have fun and enjoy this great experience I’ve been given.”

Van Oostrum played for GB Under-20s this summer (Dan Wooller)

To his credit, the Caja Laboral apprentice has escaped cut after cut by impressing Finch and his staff.  There have been mistakes aplenty, for sure, but also ample glimpses of his creativity on the floor, a quality which GB has always lacked from its playmakers.

The staff, Finch confirms, have pushed him hard in camp. “I’m learning a lot,” van Oostrum states. “How can you not when you play with guys like these? The other week I was playing against Tony Parker. I couldn’t have imagined that a year ago.

“If I make a mistake, someone’s always on my back. I know straight away if I’ve done something wrong. But you learn from it.”

His paymasters at Caja Laboral will be observing his progress closely. He trains daily with their ACB squad and, having moved to the fringes of a call-up last season, an impact in the Europeans cannot help but advance his ambitions.

Van Oostrum is not thinking too far ahead. “I want to play with GB,” he confirms. “I’ve always wanted to do that. It’s a really high level. If I do well, that’s great. I want us to win. There’s no point in losing by a couple of points and saying: ‘we’re nearly there’. We have to get over that hump.”

GB is ready, he states, despite the horrific performance against Latvia on Saturday that had the coaching staff disheartened and the players’ attitudes questioned. The offense is far from perfect. It might never be.

“I think we’re pretty much there,” van Oostrum counters. “We still have a few practices left to chill things up. I think we’re ready. We’re excited for the EuroBasket.”

Barely 48 hours from the opener, they should be. Once they cross the border, the fervour will be hard to miss. The home country expects nothing less than a slaying on Wednesday night. There can be no room for the faint-hearted.

Cockiness will be no bad thing. A little swagger, even. “We want to compete and prove ourselves in front of these big teams,” van Oostrum expands. “It’s a big stage. There’ll be 15000 people there when we play Lithuania. They’re the hosts. They’re a hell of a team.”

But, forget the perceived wisdom, he adds.

“This is an opportunity to show what we can do. I think we stand a chance. There will always be upsets.”

Having beaten the odds to be here, van Oostrum won’t start hedging his bets now.

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