It's a good time to be a professional basketball player, just ask Sam Short.
The 21-year-old is coming off a stellar season with the Ballarat Miners, and has rejoined Melbourne United for the upcoming NBL season.
It will be his third year with the powerhouse club since signing on as a development player in 2017. And with the league enjoying the most exposure it's had in over 20 years, the 2019-20 season is shaping up to be like none that came before it.
The significance isn't lost on Short who is about to enter the final year of his DP contract. A good showing this season could see him elevated to the team's full-time roster, thus guaranteeing him a place in the rapidly evolving competition going forward.
"The goal for me this year is to be elevated to the full roster. The plan coming in was that once my development contract ran out I'd be upgraded to a full-time contract," he said.
"I think the league is projected to really successful in the next few years, there is talk of adding more teams which will be great for the competition. You're seeing guys with NBA experience and Euroleague experience coming into play now which is great."
Short will join a star-studded United roster featuring Chris Goulding, Mitch McCarron and three of the competition's top imports, including league-leading scorer Melo Trimble and three-time champion Casey Prather.
Time on the court may be scarce for Short, but the Ballarat native said he was prepared to make the most of his opportunities after a career-year with the Miners in the country's second-tier competition.
"The level of competition really improved, it forced me to get stronger and get my shot off quicker, but I really think I became a great leader and decision maker, especially off the pick and roll," he said.
"A high focus for me was to be able to knock down more shots, and I thought I got better throughout the year."
Short said his goals were to get stronger physically and ensure he was ready when called upon. It is something that can be easier said than done, said Short when playing time varies game to game.
You're seeing guys with NBA experience and Euroleague experience coming into play now which is great.Sam Short
"It can be more of a mental challenge than a physical one. You've just got to try and keep your mind right and stay ready for the opportunity," he said.
"There are times when you're sitting down for the whole game and in the last few minutes you get thrown out there in front of 10,000 people and you don't want to stuff up. So it can be challenging, but it's part of being a professional and learning to stay ready."
Short will suit-up for Melbourne on Friday when the team takes-on the Illawarra Hawks in a preseason encounter at the Ballarat Sports and Events Centre.
A sold-out crowd is expected to turn out to watch the spectacle which will be headlined by teenage American sensation LaMelo Ball. Short said the game would provide plenty of highlights.
Have you signed up to The Courier's variety of news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in Ballarat.