Some claim he is the best player to ever hit the court for Ballarat. Now sharp-shooting playmaker Roy Booker is set to return to the GMHBA Ballarat Miners in 2015.
Booker set the South East Australian Basketball League alight with multiple heroic 40-plus-point games and massive hauls of assists, and he remains the league’s leader in both categories despite a season-ending injury in June.
“I love Ballarat and I’m excited to be coming back,” said Booker.
“I’ve played professionally for eight years but this is really comfortable for me here – the competition is good but it’s not just about basketball. Everybody here is good; I get treated with respect and that’s important. The decision was a no-brainer.”
Booker’s Player of the Month award in May and two Player of the Week awards are testament to his in-game achievements, but his effect extends well beyond the court.
Booker is truly passionate and committed to the Ballarat community. On top of his club-coordinated community duties including regular basketball skills clinics and school visits, Booker has undertaken self-initiated programs including coaching and classroom support of local children.
His effect is undeniable when he walks down the MARS® MINERDOME hallway to be swarmed by children who he greets by name. In the days following his injury, the Minerdome mailbox filled with cards and gifts, and well-wishes were sent via his teammates, coaches and Minerdome staff.
“The community is important to me. I’ve loved spending a lot of time in schools and it’s just no hassle; everybody’s really cool,” said Booker.
“The community has treated me so good – people invite me to their house and take me out to eat, and I don’t feel like it’s because I’m playing well, people have actually been treating me even better since I got injured so it’s really not just about basketball.”
Booker also endeavours to share the benefits of his experience with his young teammates – the team’s average age without Booker is under 23 – and isn’t afraid to help his teammates step up when required.
“I want to see my teammates do well; that’s what’s important for us to win – it makes everybody’s job easier,” said Booker.
“My teammates know I expect them to improve even more next season. I’ve spoken to all the younger guys and told them to keep working out over summer. We’re not just trying to get to the playoffs; we want to win the championship.”
Booker will fly home to Missouri, USA, next week before returning to Australia in January to commence training and conditioning, and engaging with the Ballarat community.