Update on SA Men playing College basketball (+more) week 3️⃣
First off, we want to shout out some BIG congratulations to a few athletes outside of the college basketball scene.
Koen Sapwell has continued to grow and grow improving consistently, every year, at every level he plays. Whilst many drop off mentally with the regular setbacks this sport provides high level athletes, or throw in the towel all together, Koen keeps chipping away at his craft each year. This tough shooter is a player that so many across the state should be looking up to. Last week Koen has signed to a roster position with Brisbane Bullets. I am sure I speak for everyone that has worked with Koko that we are extremely proud of you and excited for your future in the NBL.
PICTURED: Koen Sapwell is bullet! | Brisbane Bullets Instagram
Indy Cotton is one of the brightest 16-year-old prospects we've seen. The South Australian is now based in Queensland, recently competed at the U15 FIBA Oceania Championships, where he led the Australian National Team to a Gold medal on the way to qualifying for the U17 Asia Championships. In this tournament Indy was exceptionally efficient with 82% from the field on 13.2ppg. Indy will surely be hitting the radars of the Centre of Excellence program, ticking all the boxes in our opinion (So you want to be an AIS athlete: Janx' view on what it takes )
Video of Indy hitting 5x3 pointers in 2020 as a U16 Bottomager before heading to QLD: http://www.hudl.com/v/2FVeCE
Final recognition and shout out, for guys outside of College Hoops, goes to Mattaes Phillipou. Mattaes was drafted at pick 9 to St Kilda this past week. The young man has leveraged all he has learned in basketball over the years to help build his draft stocks with it widely acknowledged he managed to juggle both sports through to U18s top age year. At pick 9 it has been acknowledged by experts that Mattaes was a "steal" for the Saints and Mattaes is as determined as ever to help bring success to the program. We are sure the competitive drive and work ethic he is known for is basketball will continue in his professional AFL career.
VIDEO: Mattaes with the North Adelaide Rockets in 2021.
PICUTRED: To AFL Draft day 2 weeks ago! | Picture: Dylan Burns, Getty Images
Now onto College Hoops, but this week we go beyond the Division 1 NCAA
As the pre-season tournaments and non-conference schedules come to conclusion teams are now getting ready for their conference schedules. Most of the teams with SA kids in them will need to win or finish high to nominate for the big post season tournaments. In most cases a conference win will be needed to get them to the NCAA tournament and in the case of Sam Houston State (Cameron Huefner) and Cal Baptist (Keanu Rasmussen) some big wins in the non-conference games might set them up for secondary post season tournaments, like the NIT, should they not win their conference.
What a time to visit the US during the non-conference schedules and pre-season tournaments that happen around the thanksgiving weekend. There are lots of games played in back-to-back days around thanksgiving and generally American families or the team's staff will often welcome visiting supporters and family members of Aussie players into their homes with open arms for Thanksgiving dinner. The Scotts (Curtis Scott is at Ottowa University in Kansas), The Dyers (visiting Joel Dyer) and Grisctis (visiting Ben Griscti at University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio) have had great visits over there.
Now we take a look at an athlete that has been making waves at the NCAA Division 2 level this season. A former Australian Junior representative. There are many opportunities at all levels over the USA and with new transfer rules meaning you can transfer and not need to redshirt for a year if it is your first transfer many players are making multiple stops along their college journey. Many guys in the NBL had great Division 2 NCAA careers. One example is Hayden Meakes who took the NCAA by storm when he entered into the transfer portal after having a very strong Freshman season at Adams State. Colleges love an athlete, with versatile size and strength that is a high-level shooter and 6foot7 Hayden ticks those boxes. And in his Sophomore year, with McKendree University, he is showing continued improvement that will set him up well for starting roles in his junior and senior years.
PICTURED: Hayden knocking down 3s with Mckendree State | McKendree State official team page
VIDEO: Back in Adelaide playing NBL1 as an 18 year old.
We caught up with Hayden who is currently playing 15-20 mins per game, shooting the 3 ball at a high level over 42%, in a team that will push for conference finals when looking at their non-conference results. Thankyou Hayden for checking in:
"It has definitely been a different experience for me coming into this season with a new team. Learning a whole new offensive system has been a good experience for me and extended my basketball knowledge for sure. One of the biggest reasons for choosing Mckendree is that we have one of the youngest coaching staffs in college basketball which has benefited me as the staff understand the way basketball is moving to a heavy position-less type of basketball with a big emphasis on 3 point shooting."
"The facilities at McKendree are excellent with 2 gyms available for getting shots up and getting work outs in with coaches whenever you want. We also have training rooms with athletic trainers available all the time for treatment of any injuries or pains. I’m excited to see how the rest of our season goes with the up and down start that we have had. So far I’m playing well and doing my job for the team in order for us to get wins. We have an offense which requires everyone to buy into it and be unselfish which has been really fun to play within. We have a great group of guys which I’m excited to play out the rest of this season and hopefully the rest of my college career with."
Cam Huefner's team, Sam Houston State, just continues to win, win and win in a season that will no doubt raise Cam's stocks greatly at the collegiate and pro level. They won the Fort Myers Tip Off preseason tournament with wins against High Major Utah Utes, Northern Illinois and South Dakota. Cam averaged 18 mins a game 13/20 from the field in the tournament including a big 22 pts vs South Dakota. Sam Houston had won their first 6 games, including big wins against Oklahoma Sooners and Utah Utes, until coming up against Power Mountain West Program Nevada. Nevada who are having a huge year in their own right under Steve Alford, who was the last coach at UCLA, a school that has from time to time looked closely at South Australians, beating Sam Houston by 18 pts. Cam finishing with 4 pts in 9 mins in that game
Speaking of Steve Alford we now take a close at another South Australian Joel Dyer's school Huntington University where Alford's son Kory is also the Head Coach. Huntington competes in 1 of the toughest conferences in the NAIA and in their non-conference games have gone 10-3. Joel who is averaging around 15-20mins per game is continuing to shoot the 3 ball at a very high level. Here is what Joal had to say of their season so far:
"This season been really great so far for me and the team as well. Best chemistry we’ve had as team since I’ve got here, and we are all gelling really well together. Personally, I’ve started well shooting the ball with 57% from the field and 61% from 3 so far. Style of play for us is a lot more pace and motion offense. We are 4-1 against some very high-level teams, such as #6 William Jessup and Southern Oregon. Should be another good season and national tournament appearance for us."
PICTURED: Joel Dyer with Huntington University in his Junior Season | Emily Wyatt Huntington County TAB
What an exciting time for Joel and his team as they look like they are in the mix to make the National NAIA tournament!