Frankston RSL Blues rising star Tom Garrett has been making an impact throughout the 2019 NBL1 season, however the 6’5 guard is set to test his talents in US College having committed to Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Garrett is the nephew of David Andersen, a former Frankston junior, NBA and Australian representative who is still playing in the NBL with the Illawarra Hawks, is currently playing an important role in the Blues’ NBL1 run to the playoffs. He explained that choosing to attend ‘Metro State’ was an easy decision.

“There were definitely some other schools that I was assessing, but I knew of the long line of Aussies they have had there, and also the success that they have enjoyed over the years. In making the decision, it just appeared to be the best option for me and my development moving forward.”

A Division 2 program located in downtown Denver, Colorado, while Metro State may not be familiar to most Australian basketball fans, the school has a long and storied history with Australian basketball players that have gone on to play in the NBL and in fact their country at international level that rivals the likes of Saint Mary’s.

Mark Worthington, David Barlow, Luke Kendall, Jesse Wagstaff, Nick Kay and Mitch McCarron are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the talent from down under that have played for the Road Runners. In 2015, McCarron was named NCAA Division II Player of the Year, following Worthington’s same achievement 10 years earlier in 2005.

MSU Denver boasts the best all-time winning percentage in the history of NCAA Division II basketball and began recruiting players from Australia during the coaching tenure of Mike Dunlap, who took over the program in 1997 after coaching the NBL’s Adelaide 36ers. While Dunlap has since moved on, the tradition of recruiting Australians has continued with great success.

Some 15 former Roadrunners have played in the NBL, and up until earlier this year, 18 were actively playing professional basketball across the globe.

While current head coach Andrew Harms who is a former Road Runner himself helped guide Garrett in his decision to attend Metro State, it was the rich history of successfull
Australians who had attended the program that ultimately helped him make a final decision.

“While he [Harms] had a bit of an influence, it was more everyone around me who knew basketball,” explained Garrett.  “When I would mention I was considering Metro State, I’d always be told of all the successful Aussies who’d gone there and how good it is. I’m just looking forward to meeting the team and getting into training with them, and at this stage I am planning on leaving next week.”

Current head coach Michael Bahl was looking forward to welcoming Garrett to the program.

“Thomas comes to us with great size and ability from the guard position,” advised Bahl in the official release.

“He has the ability to play multiple spots on the floor, which adds to his versatility as a player. He has the ability to score at all three levels, but his toughness and basketball IQ are the things that we like the most about him. At the end of the day Thomas is a blue-collar type of player, and that’s the type of player we want in our program.”

With Garrett departing for his new adventure as soon as next week, it will mean he will miss out on the Blues’ long-awaited return to post-season action in the 2019 NBL1 playoffs. Having provided 3.8 points, 1.9 rebounds in just over 12 minutes per game this season, his impact and valuable minutes off the bench will definitely be missed, however Garrett is confident that his team can enjoy a successful playoff series after an outstanding season.

“We have an incredible roster, but it just feels like it’s all clicked and at the right time of the year,” explained Garrett. “We will look to finish the season off this weekend with a win and hopefully secure second place and a home game in the opening round of the playoffs. I am sure the team can do something special, and I will be following their progress closely online.”

The Blues close out the 2019 NBL regular season on Sunday against the Southern Sabres at the Southern Basketball Stadium, with tip-off at 2:00pm AEST. It would be only fitting for Garrett to go up against former MSU Denver alumni and current Sabres star David Barlow in his final outing for the Blues before heading off to college.