While Australia’s presence in the NBA had increased to record number over recent years, the reality is that it is a rare feat achieved by so few. Yet quite remarkably, Frankston Basketball is set to have a second former junior player make their mark in the world’s best league.
David Andersen, who was selected by the Atlanta Hawks with the 37th overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, spent 7 years in Europe before making history when he became the first Blues player to tread the NBA hardwood with the Houston Rockets in 2009. He would go on to finish his two year stint with the Toronto Raptors.
Ryan Broekhoff is now set to follow in Andersen’s footsteps, and take to the court as a Dallas Maverick come late October when the 2018/19 season tips off after signing a 2-year deal.
The Rio Olympian starred in Russia and in the EuroCup with Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar last season.
He averaged a team-best 12.3 points with 5.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 26.6 minutes per game in the EuroCup, shooting a remarkable 50.6% from beyond the arc on his way to being named to the All-EuroCup Team. The swingman also won the three-point competition at the 2018 VTB United League All-Star game, attracting plenty of interest from NBA scouts and other EuroLeague teams, paving the way for his transition to the NBA.
In speaking exclusively with Frankston Basketball, Broekhoff explained that signing with the Mavericks was a dream come true.
“It’s still all too surreal, all sort of sinking in slowly,” said Broekhoff on his feelings about becoming Australia’s latest NBA player.
“There has been so much love, so much support from both here in the ‘States and back home in Australia. I am going to try to get back to everyone to thank them for all their support.”
It was clear that Broekhoff valued the opportunities, coaching and experience he gained throughout his Junior Blues career.
“My time at Frankston helped set the foundations [for my career].” explained Broekhoff. “I was very fortunate to come through the program with an amazing group of team mates, some of whom I am still good mates with today.
“The coaches were also great, and expecially guys like Andrew Jacobson, Neil Williams, Shane Mathieson at U18’s – they were coaches that really drilled in the fundamentals. They took us from being boys to becoming men. They helped build up the toughness and instilled a good work ethic.
“I owe a lot to Frankston and my team mates.”
Broekhoff who played all his junior career with the Blues, explained it was a club that held a special place for him.
“Frankston is a an amazing club and has been for a long time, going right back to the Frankston Bears days when they played a season in the NBL. It is really funny that two guys that have come from the Frankston area – a place that has had a pretty bad rap about it – that have made the NBA. Hopefully it can inspire more in future.”
Frankston Blues Chairperson Chris Beattie expressed his thoughts on the Ryan’s impact on his former club saying.
“Ryan is a great ambassador for our club as a former Frankston Blues Junior. He continues to be an inspiration to our junior athletes, chasing their basketball dreams.”
“I heard an interesting stat that Frankston has produced more NBA players than the state of New South Wales which is quite a feat and something our club is extremely proud of.”
After receiving the good news, Broekhoff explained he had spoken to head coach Rick Carlisle and was looking forward to playing with his childhood idol.
“I spoke to coach [Rick Carlisle] who welcomed me to the team and advised he was looking forward to having me. As for the basketball-side of things, my role will probably be determined when preseason starts and the final rosters are done.
“I actually idolised Dirk [Nowitzki] when I was growing up! I had his jersey and he was my favourite player when I was 12 through to 16 – when the NBA was everything I loved to watch. To have that come full circle and now to be able to play with him, and to be able to learn from him, that is something I will take advantage of.”
Current ‘Frankston RSL‘ Frankston Blues Captain Jake Macaulay was a former junior team mate of Broekhoff, and the newly signed Dallas sharpshooter was quick to dispel any rumours that his former team mate was at one stage taller than him.
“He is definitely lying,” laughed Broekhoff. “I’ve known Jakey for quite some time – I think we were in prep together at Bon Beach actually! But he was never taller than me.”
Macaulay spoke with joy about his former team mate.
“We are so proud of Rowdy! All the way back from the courts at Patterson Lakes primary school at recess and lunchtime to now making it into the NBA.
“We called you Rowdy because you didn’t talk much but it you never needed to, you always let your talent and desire speak louder than words.”
Broekhoff had been looking forward to the possibility of catching a late season SEABL game but will sadly miss the opportunity to do so as he will arrive home just as the Blues season comes to an end.
“I was hoping I may be able to watch a game or two and catch up with the guys. It’s a shame my schedule means I will get home after they have finished. I definitely follow their progress and wish them all the best in finishing the season strongly with a view to next season.”
Broekhoff is the latest product of Frankston’s junior program to make the NBA, and hopefully he will not be the last.