1. Your popularity has grown in recent times, and a lot of people are familiar with your story and the incident that changed your life, but a lot of people don't realise you were a serious player back in the day. Can you give us a quick rundown of your journey as a player? e.g. accolades, teams you made, highest level you got too.
I grew up in a small country town called Millicent in South Australia and started playing basketball when I was 7. I was fortunate enough as a player to represent my state at 5 junior national championships. At the end of my last year of U18’s nationals I was offered a scholarship to the AIS in Canberra and was able to live & train there every day for two years against the likes of Patty Mills, Matthew Dellavedova, Nate Jawai, Joe Ingles & a lot of current NBL players. It was an awesome experience and really helped my development as player. During this time, I was a member of the Australian U19 team and represented Australia at the 2007 World Championships.
After graduating from the AIS I signed a contract to play with the South Dragons in the NBL, unfortunately 3 games into my professional career I suffered a cardiac arrest at training and was forced to retire.
It was really tough to deal with at the time but I am a big believer that things happen for a reason and I was very fortunate that I was able to get into coaching as a result.
2. During your time as a player who was the hardest person you ever had to guard? What made them so tough?
I have been fortunate to play against some great players but I would have to say the toughest person I had to guard was Nicholas Batum. We played against the French U19 National team a few times. He is 6’8” and a real freak athletically so it is hard to compete with that, he put a few of us on posters in some of the games.
3. What was your best ever performance as a player? Is there one game in particular that sticks in your memory?
I don’t know that there is one game that stands out. I think my last nationals at U18’s was probably the most memorable as it was probably the first time I started to get some attention in terms of the AIS & Junior Australian opportunities. It was a great reward to finally break through on that level after so much hard work & sacrifice along the way.
4. Finish this sentence... "Australian basketball is...."
In a very good position moving forward. It is an exciting time in Australian basketball at every level.
5. What's been your greatest moment as a coach?
I would definitely have to say being a part of the team that won Gold at the U17 World Championships last year.
6. So prior to winning the gold, you’re going up against a team that has NEVER lost in this U17's World Championships competition in the USA. How confident were you in being able to win that game? Or was there an element of hope?
I think vs the USA there is always the element of hope, they are just so talented & well respected on the world stage. In saying that our group was extremely confident going in. We had played the USA in a scrimmage prior to the tournament starting and blew a big lead late in that game so knew that we had the ability to beat them. In the Semi-final it was all about sticking to our game plan & taking away their strengths. The girls did a fantastic job of that and it resulted in a victory. I definitely think we were fortunate for the lesson we learned before the tournament began.
7. We often don't hear about who the coach takes lessons from? Is there a role model or particular coach you look up to or whose words have stuck with you?
I have been extremely fortunate in my young coaching career to have a lot of great mentors. I won’t name them all in case I leave someone out. I try to learn things from all coaches as I think that everyone has a different perspective on the game and there is always a different way to do things.
8. As a director of coaching for Basketball NSW what are your goals for the program moving forward?
Basketball in NSW has had a lot of success & produced some great players. I just hope that I am able to have a positive impact on players and coaches in NSW and leave the game in a better place than when I walked in the door.
I really hope to help NSW to produce more international athletes. When you watch college, NBL & WNBL basketball there are a lot of NSW juniors running around so it would be great to be able to help continue that trend.
9. What are you personal goals for 2017 and beyond as a basketball coach?
I am hopeful to have the opportunity to be able to coach the Australian Junior team again and try to defend our world title. Moving beyond that I would love to go to an Olympics one day & hopefully have another chance to coach professionally either here in Australia or overseas.