Australia proves fertile talent pool for NBA
An elite junior programme has put players on spotlight
If you ask Australian youngsters who their favourite basketball player is, US superstars such as Lebron James or Kevin Durant are likely responses, with the mere mention of the NBA creating a buzz.
But home-grown talent Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers), Patty Mills (San Antonio Spurs), Dante Exum (Utah Jazz) and South Sudanese refugee Thon Maker (Milwaukee Bucks) have swelled Aussie numbers in the world’s top league and heightened the hopes of young Australians playing the game.
“It definitely gives you something to aim for, knowing that they have started where you started and they made it all the way to the top,” Austin Bradtke told AFP after a narrow win at a recent basketball carnival in suburban Melbourne.
“Experiencing American basketball, and also the crowds and stuff, it looks really enticing for a young player, that is where I am keen to go,” added the 17year-old, whose father Mark was among the earliest Australians to play in the NBA.
Once a far-flung dream for young hopefuls, technology is giving scouts greater access to international talent, while an elite junior programme is putting promising Australians at the forefront of the game, with courts Down Under proving fertile ground for US recruiters.
Australia’s national side “the Boomers” were earlier this month crowned FIBA Asia Cup champions despite fielding a second-string side because their top international stars were unavailable.