ANDREW Bogut speaks and you can start to feel the huge impact this will have across the nation and, importantly for us, the ripple effects in Ballarat.
This is bigger than words. Bogut’s press conference this week was taking action. It followed active involvement with the National Basketball League’s NextGen camp in Melbourne.
Bogut is making an big investment back in Australian hoops.
If you want a leading example of why grassroots clubs in any sport should let players go to test their game at a higher level – This. Is. It.
Bogut signed with NBL club Sydney Kings last month after 13 seasons playing NBA in the United States.
There are some who have suggested Bogut would have been better to have signed off his career – which includes a 2015 championship ring with Golden State Warriors – on a high note, rather than come back and be less than his best in Australia.
Bogut believes Australia’s marquee men’s league can become second in standard only to the NBA. He believes he can help the game here.
He knows showing up and speaking out will promote Australian basketball and, speaking one-on-one with Fairfax Media’s lead basketball scribe Roy Ward, can remind young players they can have a sporting career in basketball.
Bogut wants to help keep emerging talent in the game, preventing code swapping to AFL or from giving up on the game altogether.
This is about showing a pathway to what is possible.
In turn, this will sharpen the game in Ballarat.
A rejuvenated NBL has been gathering momentum as it capitalises on heightened Australian interest in the NBA. Access to watching live American sport on pay-television or via streaming has fueled more spectator fans in a sport that has long had high participation rates on the floor.
If the NBL gets it right at the top and this flows to the grassroots.
Bogut launched his career in the South East Australian Basketball League, which fields our Ballarat Miners and Rush. He understands exactly what it takes to make those next steps and the gaps that need filling to reach the NBL, NBA or American college basketball.
The NextGen camp, in its second year, featured strong SEABL representation including emerging players from Bendigo and Geelong. Evidence of what they learned will feed straight back on to the court against our players. And this will be the same for those who manage court-time with or against Bogut next summer.
We have NBL talent, including Melbourne United championship duo Peter Hooley and Sam Short, and a proud history of American imports and our own international exports among Ballarat Miners and Rush.
As their games sharpen, so too will the younger, emerging talent around them in Ballarat.
When Bogut speaks, this demands attention to what Australian has to offer in the game. Ultimately this draws greater interest in promoting talent, like the NextGen academy or SEABL ranks, and spark more international intrigue about opportunities to play here. This is definitely an exciting listen.
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