With Ash Constable signing his first NBL contract with the Cairns Taipans this week, Ballarat Basketball has proven to be a supreme breeding ground for talent with 12 players participating in the 2014/15 NBL and WNBL seasons.
Constable joins two other national league first-timers from Ballarat’s junior ranks; Abbey Wehrung who has joined the Canberra Capitals, and Nathan Sobey who will play alongside Constable in Cairns.
Wehrung had a decorated junior career in Ballarat and undertook a scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport before returning to Ballarat. Constable and Sobey follow the path of Shaun Bruce who graduated from the Youth League Miners to the senior team before signing with the Taipans, with Sobey also completing a US college degree.
Each of these players played alongside Miner Anthony Fisher who has locked in a full time development player spot with the NBL’s reigning champion Perth Wildcats after a successful junior basketball career with Ballarat.
Ballarat has also proven to be an ideal place for established NBL players to hone their skills – Lucas Walker had a breakthrough 2013-14 season with the Melbourne Tigers after spending the NBL offseason with the Miners, much like Tim Coenraad with the Wollongong Hawks one year prior. Kevin White went from a Sydney Kings development player to first-team player after one season in Ballarat, and Daniel Joyce fought his way back into an NBL roster following a three-year stint with the Miners.
The Rush program is just as successful in helping WNBL players improve their games; Rachel Jarry and Alice Kunek have further cemented themselves as stars of the WNBL, while Stephanie Cumming is set to dominate in her second season with the Townsville Fire.
The NBL season commences this weekend as the WNBL ‘Spring Shield’ preseason tournament takes place before the season begins next weekend.