BALLARAT Miners will be without captain Matt Hanson for the 2014 South East Australian Basketball League season.
Hanson is putting his overseas basketball career on hold to spend the year with his wife, who is expecting their first child in April, and family in the United States.
While it is a setback for the Miners and the Ballarat Basketball Association junior development program, Ballarat Basketball chief executive officer Peter Eddy said everyone was delighted for the Hansons.
“We’re going to miss him, on and off the court,” he said.
“He’s a terrific person.”
Hanson joined the Miners this year from the Bundaberg Bulls in the Queensland Basketball League, where he had been playing for three seasons.
He immediately made a big impact under new coach David Flint and was appointed captain of a new-look young roster.
While he will not be returning in 2014, Eddy said so highly was Hanson respected in the Ballarat basketball community that the door was being left open for a possible return in two years.
Eddy said as well as his contribution as a player – he won the Miners’ most valuable player award – Hanson had made a significant contribution to the junior representative program.
He oversaw the under-12 to under-16 squads, replacing previous Miners coach and elite programs manager Guy Molloy.
Eddy said Hanson did initially consider the possibility of returning to Ballarat after the birth of his child, but everyone had been in agreement on ruling that out and putting family first.
Despite Hanson’s departure, Eddy believes the Miners are better placed with a view to finalising recruiting than in the past few years.
With last season’s additions Chris Smith and Kris Blicavs staying on, the focus is on securing two restricted players.
Eddy said last season’s US import, Keena Young, was a still in the mix to be retained.
He said Young had indicated before he returned to the US for the off-season that he was keen to continue playing in Ballarat.