Georgia Amoore: How Virginia Tech’s Gem Was Discovered in Belarus

Kenny Brooks traveled to Belarus to get Georgia Amoore. (Jaylynn Nash/ACC)

In July 2018, Kenny Brooks flew to Minsk, Belarus for the FIBA Under-17 Women’s World Cup. It was a recruiting trip, and he got to see some of the best young talent in the world up close. Among those players: Australia’s own Georgia Amoore.

Brooks and then-assistant coach Britney Anderson spent some time in Paris before reaching Belarus. Once there, they saw the first two days of the tournament, which featured 16 games and tons of talent. UConn’s Paige Bueckers, Louisville’s Hailey Van Lith and South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston were three of the 12 players representing the United States. Along with the Americans, Brooks & Co. were interested in some Canadians – they signed Makayla Ennis, who transferred to Hofstra in 2021 – and Australians. 

But Amoore was the player who really caught their eye. There was a preexisting relationship thanks to some phone conversations, but it wasn’t until Brooks saw her play in person that he knew she was the point guard for his system at Virginia Tech.

“When I got to see Georgia play, I found I liked her better than the other kid we recruited,” Brooks told Tech Sideline at the ACC Tipoff. “And even though the other kid played more than Georgia did, I loved Georgia’s movements. I loved her energy, I loved the potential she exuded. And I probably wouldn’t have ever had that determination unless I saw her live.”

Brooks watched Amoore compete against Angola and Latvia. In those two days, she played 58 minutes, scored 23 points and posted 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals.

The following spring, she played in a tournament in Tampa, Fla. before the NCAA Final Four. Brooks got another chance to evaluate her, which further convinced him that she was the point guard he wanted.

Kenny Brooks said he and point guard Georgia Amoore have their own language. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

When September rolled around, time was of the essence. Another recruit the Hokies were pursuing was in town from Friday through Sunday. Amoore and her family visited on Sunday evening. Virginia Tech had one scholarship remaining in its 2020 class, and Brooks was worried he wouldn’t get Amoore.

“I remember we took the highway exit [off 460] and I just got immediate goosebumps,” Amoore said. “As soon as we met with [Brooks], I was like, ‘Yeah, this is the place to be.’ And I committed on the spot in his office and I’m walking out to go to the airport and he looks at me and he’s like, ‘We’re going to get to work.’ I never questioned that and I never doubted that.”

“We were taking Georgia around [campus] and I’m nervous the other kid was going to commit,” Brooks said. “Finally, Georgia sat down and says, ‘I’m committing.’ I was like, ‘Thank you, Jesus.'”

The next day, the other recruit called and wanted to commit. Brooks had a tough and necessary conversation, but in the back of his mind, he was beaming. He got the point guard he felt was going to take his program to the next level.

But for Amoore, the decision wasn’t easy. Her hometown of Ballarat, Victoria, Australia is over 10,000 miles from Blacksburg, Va. It’s a 15-hour time difference, too.

“I was kind of on the fence about staying or going,” Amoore said. “But [for Virginia Tech] to have that much of an immediate impact on me that I said I was going, my mom burst out in tears. And I think the reality hit that I wasn’t going to be home for the next four or whatever years, but they were proud of me, as always, and I think they really, really trusted Coach Brooks.”

Amoore enrolled in the spring of 2020 and learned the ropes from Taja Cole and Dara Mabrey, two point guards with seven combined years of experience under their belts. She got along well with her teammates and grew closer with many of them, including center Elizabeth Kitley.

The learning curve of playing basketball in the U.S. was challenging at times for Amoore. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

But not even six months into her time in Virginia, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Amoore’s world was all over the place. That was until the Kitleys opened their door.

The 2021 ACC Player of the Year and an AP All-American, Kitley is from Summerfield, N.C., about two hours south of Blacksburg. When classes were cancelled in March and Virginia Tech went online, she went home to her family – and brought Amoore with her.

“By that point, we’d already been really close,” Kitley told Tech Sideline. “She’d been here for… it felt like a while, but now that I’m thinking about it, it could’ve only been like two months, which is crazy. But it seemed like the obvious thing for her to come back with me because my parents were always there to give her what she needed or offer that support that she didn’t really have. … It was just another addition to the family.”

“I definitely grew as a person,” Amoore said of her experience with the Kitleys. “Very challenging. I’m not going to sit here and say it was easy. But … I had a family. And they took care of me like their own, they still do, but I’m forever grateful for what they did for me.”

The two returned to campus in the fall ahead of the season, but the transition on the court wasn’t easy for Amoore. The game in the U.S. is less physical than that of FIBA, and Amoore fouled out four times in her first 15 games. The shot clock is also different: 30 seconds instead of FIBA’s 24. But Brooks let her feel out the style.

Every aspect of life was an adjustment as well. Amoore said she put on around 20 pounds when she first arrived in January. By the middle of the 2020-21 season, she lost 15 pounds. The accessibility to dining halls and Virginia Tech’s student-athlete performance center (which opened in Dec. 2020) along with loads of free time was tough to handle at times.

Georgia Amoore played well for the Hokies as a freshman and sophomore. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

Nonetheless, she had a successful freshman year at Virginia Tech. She started 23 of Tech’s 25 games, averaging 11.8 points, 4.6 assists and 2.4 rebounds along the way. A core of Amoore, Kitley, Aisha Sheppard and Cayla King propelled the Hokies to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2006.

Then came the 2021-22 season. A year under her belt, she helped Virginia Tech to a record year. “Last year, I was afraid to make mistakes,” Amoore said in October 2021. “This year, I know what to expect.”

She showed it in her play. In over 1,000 minutes, Amoore wreaked havoc on opponents. 368 points, 145 assists, and 70 3-pointers at a 40% clip detail her sophomore year. And against North Carolina in the ACC Tournament, Kitley and King were both injured. The Hokies had their backs against the wall. So Amoore took matters into her own hands.

“I called Georgia over during a break in the game and said, ‘Look, you’re the best player on the floor, go out there and prove it,'” Brooks said. “She went out and scored 20 points in the second half and overtime. She proved to herself that she’s capable.”

In a game tied at 66 with 30 seconds to play, Amoore drove down the lane, laid it up, got the bucket and the foul.

She made her free throw, extending Tech’s lead to three. Carolina tied the game and forced overtime, but Amoore scored five of the final nine points to seal the victory. In the process, she gave the rest of the ACC and the U.S. a glimpse of her capabilities.

One of the most heartwarming moments throughout last season came off the court, though. On Dec. 15, the Amoore family – Kelly, Phil, Jemma and Toby – flew across the globe to Blacksburg to visit Georgia. 

“It was kind of a weird moment because Liz is driving to the airport because I don’t have a license,” Amoore said. “And she’s like, ‘Isn’t it so weird how you’re about to see them physically for the first time in two-and-a-half years?’ It felt like it wasn’t going to happen. But the first time I saw them, I felt natural again.”


Amoore saw them again this summer, too. She flew back to Australia for the first time since she left in 2020. It was refreshing to reconnect with family, and she was able to get her mind right for the upcoming season. Virginia Tech has the talent and experience to compete for an ACC title. 

Three years removed from her decision to play basketball on the other side of the world, Amoore doesn’t regret it. She could’ve stayed in Australia and played professionally, but she wanted to challenge herself. She’s done that in the United States, both on and off the basketball court.

“I think a big thing was to come over, feel it out and if I leave, at least I can say I tried,” Amoore said. “I didn’t leave because I love it so much, and I think it’s better for me as a person and as a player to face adversity over here. Not only basketball, but I’m an international student, I have no biological family [here]. I’m just living it out every day by myself.”

At the same time, Brooks, Kitley and the rest of the Virginia Tech program are grateful Amoore is here. For one, she’s a fantastic player on the court. But more importantly, she’s a Hokie. And though she was naïve and wide-eyed when she first arrived and didn’t know what to expect, she’s a better person as a result.

“They try to keep the Australian pipeline in Australia,” Amoore said. “So what I had heard about college was, ‘Don’t go, you’ll play against pros here, stay here and you’ll be better off.’ Little do they know I’m going to the best conference in America.”

Kenny Brooks went to many lengths to get Georgia Amoore to Blacksburg. (Jaylynn Nash/ACC)

In the past few seasons, Amoore’s been undervalued by many outside the program. She played alongside Sheppard, the program’s all-time leading scorer. Kitley was the best player in the conference a year ago, and she’s back again. And in the offseason, Tech added a second AP All-American in Ashley Owusu and another All-ACC performer in Taylor Soule.

Amoore was All-ACC Honorable Mention in 2021-22, but that’s selling her short. Those around the program know that. She’s been crucial in every moment of Virginia Tech basketball in the last two seasons, and both campaigns culminated in NCAA Tournament appearances.

As she gears up for her third season in Blacksburg, one where she has the potential to help the Hokies to historic heights, it’s hard not to think about that 2018 trip. Brooks found a gem down under; it just required a connection to Belarus.

“She is me,” Brooks said. “We finish each other’s sentences. She knows exactly what plays we want to run. She and I talk about everything. Life, food, cultures, plays. I’ll ask her what plays she likes, she’ll ask me what plays I like, and we just talk. We speak a different language that only she and I understand.

“She’s grown immensely as a point guard, as a player with confidence. I’m looking forward to her growth this year and what she can do.”

33 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Good write up on the teams Scrum Half, OK point guard. But if she played Rugby she’d be great at Scrum Half, clears the ball from the scrum, sets up plays for the backs and probably kick a great up and under to go in for a try.

    GO HOKIES!!!

  2. Great article about some incredible people. Georgia is really impressive in so many ways and we are so fortunate to have her. I’m going to start attending the women’s games. Exciting times!

  3. Great article, David! Thanks for featuring our Tech women. This team has star power, and Amoore is definitely one of the brightest. One of my favorite Hokie athletes ever.

  4. Great interview and article. It took a lot of fortitude and drive for her to go across the world with no family, then go through Covid with no on site college experience or basketball, then live with the Kitleys who took her under their wings. Really enjoy watching her play with that same attitude and drive to be the best!

  5. Great article. Great to learn about the team as people. Makes it even easier to root for them passionately.

  6. Thanks for a most enjoyable article. I thought Amoore was a great one the first time I saw her play. She displayed a lot of savvy.

    1. Agree. Personal and heart warming. The real human deal on top of an athletic story. Good for everyone involved. AH.

  7. Great article, thanks for putting in the time to understand our QB of the women’s hoops team. Georgia seems like a great young lady and is clearly a wonderful representative of the Hokies family.

  8. Thank you, David and TSL for this great profile on Georgia. We in our household affectionately refer to her as “the kangaroo.” I’m sure some would be horrified at our use of that term, but we love her and admire her, not only as a player but also as a young woman who crossed the globe to play for the Hokies.

  9. I can relate to discovering the dining halls as a freshman, chocolate milk? (this is in the 70s) Just to brag, I picked up on her immediately, I like her as a pg b/c she’s always moving doing something, You’ll see som pgs, stop and bounce the ball some while they think about things, when she gets to that point she’ll either pass the ball off, drive or shoot.

    Good for her, it can’t be easy, in actual fact the opposite side of the world. Interesting about her choices though, are professionals in Australia better/worse than D! basketball? Are we talking about the professional world-wide? But as always, you pays your money and take your chances. I’ll be down to watch both bball teams this year.

    On the side, Kenny made a comment about going to Belarus on the podcast, didn’t sound like it was his favorite place to go.

  10. Great article. It gave me a great appreciation for Coach Brooks and how he relates to his players. Kudos to Kitleys parents taking in Amoore.

  11. She is my favorite player because she is the only person on the team who is shorter than I am.

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