Brad Newley | From SA to the AIS, to Europe, to the Olympics, and the NBL; Living the basketball dre
Updated: Apr 13
Preface by Janx…
This article is written by Tony Casella (TC), who recently had a chance to chat to Brad Newley about his career. I am sure TC will highlight Brad’s amazing journey but I wanted to give some context and insights on TC first.
TC is currently Head Coach of the Sturt Sabres Premier League Men’s team. Premier League is the top state based league for South Australia. Sturt is a club renowned nationally for youth player development and the men’s program has long standing reputation of supporting home grown, youth talent. This year is no exception, with a great group of young men and savvy veterans produced from the Sturt junior program. The team is competing well so far against big budget clubs who have imports from overseas and interstate.
Like TC demands from his athletes, he is always focused on personal development and learning. Having already coached multiple national championship medal winning teams, he is always growing, TC is currently completing NBA Scout School training and has also attended the NBA Summer League Networking and Education tour in 2016 with Liam Flynn (By Tony Casella | Summer @ the NBA).
I cannot thank TC enough for his work with basketball in South Australia over many years and more recently www.highperformancehoopsnetwork.com. He has worked on our platform, provided introductions for me to various people in the network, created occasional blogs and acted a sounding board from time to time with talent evaluation for the kids looking to come into our network and also the featured athletes over in the US college system now.
This article provides great insights about Brad Newley, who is truly a world class player. He has taken a slightly alternate route of turning professional out of High School before moving into the European system. TC provides a career breakdown on Brad’s pathway which includes personal insights from Brad, including the “secret” Boomers Vs Emus game, making the decision not to go to college and his European experience playing for some of the biggest programs in Europe. We hope provides knowledge and inspiration for kids coming through our system and an example of what a kid from Adelaide can achieve.
Over to TC…
Thanks Janx. I first met Brad in 1999 and was fortunate enough to coach him as a bottom age Under 18 player at Forestville. I saw international potential in him and was impressed by his work ethic and passion for basketball. We spent a lot of time together during that season doing individual trainings to improve all aspects of his game. We have stayed in touch over the years and continue our individual trainings in his off season. During a recent shooting session with Brad before the Commonwealth Games we caught up to discuss his journey.
Brad has had an amazing basketball career to date and is one of the best Australian players of his generation. He took the Australian pathway to develop his game via the CoE (Centre of Excellence, formally known as the AIS) and the NBL. The stability of the NBL, NBA Global Academy and CoE now makes this pathway an attractive option for elite junior athletes. Brad was drafted pick 54 by the Houston Rockets in 2007, spent 10 years in Europe playing as an import in Greece, Turkey, Lithuania and Spain then returned to the NBL to play for the Sydney Kings in 2016. Brad has also represented Australia at two Olympic Games, three FIBA World Cups and two Commonwealth Games. He continues to perform at a high level for the Boomers and shows no signs of slowing down.
VIDEO: Brad stepping up for the Boomers, scoring 18 points in the FIBA Asia Cup Final in 2017
You could say Brad comes from a sporting family. He is married to Brigid (former Sturt Sabres player), has a 4 year old daughter Beth and a son Charles who was born earlier this year. His parents Arthur & Janelle are both South Australian basketball legends and his sister Mia Newley plays in the WNBL for the Townsville Fire.
PICTURED: TC and Newley. Newley, like so many value driven elite athletes, always appreciative of those in the pathway that invested in their journey at the beginning. And of course TC happy to provide a workout to his original workout guy.
The dream begins; Making a State team
Brad did not make the Under 18 South Australian Metro state team as a bottom age so he used this as motivation to work harder and continue to get better as a player. “My improvement happened more after the team was selected, this was a great thing for my basketball as I was still 16 years old. Even though I didn’t make the team it really ramped up my motivation to make it as a top age and that’s when I made my huge jump into Australian squads.”
Like all of the featured athletes at www.highperformancehoopsnetwork.com suffering setbacks Brad looked at ways to get better but didn’t worry too much as he knew that he had the ability to play at a high level. He also knew that if he was patient then he would get his chance. He went from not making a State team as a bottom age Under 18 to making a Junior Australian team in less than two years. Brad has a great saying about dealing with setbacks, “Don’t get bitter, get better.”
Brad made the Under 18 SA Metro State team in 2002 coached by Paul Mesecke (assisted by Liam Flynn and myself) and played extremely well leading the team to a bronze medal.
PICTURED: Brad’s smile indicates how happy he was to make his first South Australian State team and of course TC smiling proudly to have Brad and his team mates in the team.
The AIS days
Brad’s performance at Under 18 Nationals was noticed by Marty Clarke who was the AIS Assistant Coach at the time. He was then invited to Australian Junior Camp for the Oceania qualifiers. He didn’t make the team but got to tour with the AIS and at the end of the year was offered a scholarship.
Clarke recognised that Brad had the ability to play for the Australian Boomers and pushed him hard to see if he had what it took to be successful at international level. “I want to thank Marty and the AIS coaching staff for helping take my game to the next level. My time at the AIS was tough at the start but by the end I didn’t want to leave. The place was amazing, it did great things for me and taught me how to be a professional.”
Brad, like many that head to the AIS (now known as the Centre of Excellence) finding it tough at the beginning but coming out a man, and one of the best young basketball prospects in the world.
Winning a gold medal at Under 19 world champs
Brad was a member of the Under 19 Australian World Champs team in 2003. They finished with a 7-1 record beating Lithuania 126-92 in the gold medal game. Brad got better as the tournament went on scoring 14 points in the Semi Final and 16 points in the Grand Final. Andrew Bogut was the Tournament MVP.
PICTURED: Winning for Australia. Newley in maybe the best men's team Australia has produced so far.
This team will go down as one of the best teams Australia has ever produced. They would train together every day at the AIS in preparation for this tournament. Training camps would include three sessions a day in hot conditions which built the team’s mental and physical toughness.
“Rob Beveridge (Head Coach) and Marty Clarke (Assistant Coach) got us playing together as a team, we were in really good shape and could press all game, everyone knew their role, played extremely hard and it was so much fun playing in that environment.”
Clearly the cohesiveness and closeness of this team, as well as their "engines", having a big impact on their success. A great take away for all readers.
Pictured: Brad in action for Australia. He is one of the best at attacking the basket.
Decisions, decisions; NBL or go to College
Brad was first looked at by NBL clubs when he was 15 years old. Brad also received offers from a number of big Division 1 US Colleges such as Utah, Baylor, Arizona and Gonzaga who regularly came to Australia to recruit him.
His decision to go to College or stay in Australia would come down to if Brad thought he was ready to play professionally in the NBL. Before Brad had committed anywhere his Emus team (U19’s Australian team) had a practice a game against a near full strength Boomers (including players such as Matt Nielsen, John Rillie, Glen Saville and Sam Mackinnon) and beat them.
“No one knows about it! Goorj threw the tape out!! He was salivating about us and what he could have had and at that moment I knew I could play in the NBL.”
Ian Stacker was the Head Coach of the Townsville Crocs at the time and had been tracking Brad for years. He visited the Newley family in Adelaide and offered Brad the opportunity to train with his team for a week to help him decide if it was the right fit. Brad now had a number of NBL offers and felt the best pathway to make the Australian Boomers was to play for Townsville as Stacker had a proven track record of developing players who went on to play for Australia such as Sam McKinnon, Aaron Trahair and Peter Crawford.
Pictured: Brad took the NBL by storm in his first year winning All-Star MVP, Rookie of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year.
Taking the dream to Europe
Brad headed to Greece after playing three years in the NBL and was ready to take his game to the next level. Brad embraced the different basketball culture and was able to “go with the flow” as the environment can be unpredictable at times. “My first coach told me, if you can survive in Greece, you can survive anywhere, ironically my coach didn’t as he was sacked after 4 games!” Brad’s favourite memory of his early days was when he scored 30 points in Game 4 for Panionios in a 3-4 playoff series. His team then went on to win game 5 at home in front of their passionate fans to secure a spot in the EuroLeague.
After two years in Greece, Brad then played in Turkey, Lithuania and Spain. He spent his last 5 years in Europe playing at Gran Canaria in the Spanish ACB which is considered one of the better leagues in the world. Brad was a valuable member of the team and helped them achieve great success. “I only had a few bags when I first arrived in Gran Canaria then five years later I left with a wife, daughter and a lot more bags. I loved my time there!”
The difference in style of game in Europe compared to Australia
“The style of game in Europe is very different than Australia. In Europe it’s a low possession game where the coach insists that the ball is moved until a good shot is available normally toward the end of the shot clock. Systems are based on team concepts and don’t rely on a player to score 20+ points. Usually a bunch of players chip in between 9-15 points. Playing in Australian National teams with similar philosophies prepared me for this style of play. The game in Australia is played at a faster pace and is more reliant on the main players doing the majority of the scoring.”
Brad’s advice to Australians considering playing as an import in Europe. “You need to put some runs on the board before going over there as its very tough environment. The NBL can provide that opportunity now and give you a taste of what it’s like playing professionally. Don’t expect to be given any special treatment based on your reputation as they only care about what you can do for them game to game. Once you get there, you have to adjust and provide the team with what they need.”
The dream continues; Goals for the NBL Season
Brad wants to get the Sydney Kings back into the playoffs, stay in the Australian team and work on his game in the off-season. He believes that you are never too late in your career to improve.
2016-Present: Sydney Kings (NBL)
2017: AEK Athens (Greek Basketball League)
2012-2016: Gran Canaria (Spanish ACB)
2012: Valencia (Spanish ACB)
2010-2012: Lietuvos Rytas (Lithuanian Basketball League)
2009-2010: Besiktas (Turkish Basketball Super League)
2008-2009: Panellios (Greek Basketball League)
2007-2008: Panionios (Greek Basketball League)
2007: Drafted by Houston Rockets, pick #54 (NBA)
2004-2007: Townsville Crocs (NBL)
Australian National Team Career
2018: Commonwealth Games (Gold Medal)
2017: FIBA Asia Cup (Gold Medal)
2015: FIBA Oceania Champions (Gold Medal)
2014: FIBA Basketball World Cup
2012: London Summer Olympic Games
2011: FIBA Oceania Champions (Gold Medal)
2010: FIBA World Championships
2009: FIBA Oceania Champions (Silver Medal)
2008: Beijing Summer Olympic Games
2007: FIBA Oceania Champions (Gold Medal)
2006: FIBA World Championships
2006: Commonwealth Games (Gold Medal)
2005: FIBA Oceania Champions (Gold Medal)
2003: FIBA Under 19 World Championships (Gold Medal)
Career Highlights and Awards
2011: Lithuanian Basketball League All Star
2008: Greek Basketball League All Star
2007 & 2017: All-NBL Second Team
2005: NBL Sixth Man of the Year
2005: NBL Rookie of the Year
2005: NBL All-Star Game MVP
VIDEO: A fantastic career so far. Brad Newley is one of the few truly elite players in South Australian basketball history and one of the best players out of Australia in this "golden" generation. Thanks Brad for taking the time to chat to TC and www.highperformancehoopsnetwork.com and we hope that our readers get some great insights.