The last 12 months have been arguably the most eventful of Tom Parsons' life.
The Werris Creek-based basketballer has, over the last year, represented the North West team, NSW Country under 18s, the NSW Combined High Schools side, been named a reserve in the NSW Basketball under 20s side, and earned a place in the NSW All Schools side.
"It's been long," Parsons said.
"It's been good though, I've enjoyed it. But it's a lot, it's a lot of travelling everywhere."
But as momentous as 2023 has been, 2024 has the potential to shape the rest of the 17-year-old's sporting career.
While he navigates the final year of his high school studies at Quirindi High, Parsons will represent the Tamworth Thunderbolts' open men's team in the state league competition, and will travel to the US mid-year to participate in the College Exposure Tour.
While Parsons is unquestionably excited for the latter, the former opportunity holds a special place in his heart.
"That's probably one of the ones I'm [most] keen for, out of all of them," he said.
"I came through seeing Billy, my brother, play for [Tamworth]. He didn't play for them much, but seeing that environment, I always wanted to play."
"There's a bunch of them coming back who I'm happy to play with," Parsons said.
The 17-year-old will play a good portion of the season for Tamworth before he jets off to the US mid-year for the College Exposure Tour.
Hundreds of basketballers trial for the opportunity to be selected for the tour, and Parsons was named in the Division One team which will represent Australia. Once there, he will spend three weeks training and playing against other teams full of promising American juniors.
"Hopefully colleges come watch, and it could potentially lead to some offers," he said.
"They also take us to colleges and show us what it's about."
The fact that his dream to play professional basketball could be shaped by his performances in the next 12 months might put a lot of pressure on Parson's young shoulders.
But in that respect, his father, Matt, has been a great guide.
The former Werris Creek Magpies coach played over 150 NRL games for South Sydney and Newcastle combined, and was part of the Knights' premiership-winning 2001 side.
"Even when I don't ask, he manages to see [when I'm feeling pressure]," Parsons said.
"Even if I'm not aware of it, he knows. He's been in the situation before, so he can help me before I need to ask ... it's really awesome."