Adelaide 36ers coach CJ Bruton is in the final year of a three year contract and has handed the keys to his offence to a teenager who he thinks could be the next Josh Giddey.
CJ Bruton has all but entrusted his coaching future at Adelaide to 18-year-old Trentyn Flowers, hoping his new Next Star can be the second coming of Josh Giddey.
The 36ers coach, in the final year of a three-year deal, is yet to make the playoffs and has handed the Baltimore native the keys to the offence in a new-look line-up that relegates high-priced Aussie guard Mitch McCarron (31) to the bench.
“Yeah … 100 per cent,” Bruton said this week when asked if Flowers would start at the point.
“Anyone with that sort of athleticism and youth, you want to let them do their thing. There’s a time where we need to slow him down and a time to let him go.
“You’ve watched Josh Giddey and you’ve watched LaMelo Ball be first round picks, for someone like Trentyn and his build, his size and his athleticism, he’s on the trajectory to be there as well.”
Flowers, who arrived in Adelaide this week after causing a stir in the US when he decommitted from Louisville, is a huge kid at 203cm, with a silky smooth game whose athleticism and length allows him to get to the rim and be a pest on defence.
But there are question marks over his ability to run the point when the game slows down and his decision-making in halfcourt sets will be make or break, given it’s been several years since he’s run a team.
Flowers addressed concerns that he wouldn’t be prepared to play the point in a pro league.
“I grew up playing the point guard since I was younger, I just had a growth spurt 6-7-8 inches going into high school,” he said.
“I was just able to expand my game just a little bit but now I’m back in my comfortable position.”
Like Giddey, who, in his 2020-21 stint in Adelaide became the youngest Australian ever to record an NBL triple-double, expect Flowers to give that mark a nudge on a nightly basis.
Flowers, who models his game on Giddey, has already served notice on the league.
“Coming out here I want to be a successful NBA player, so being able to get that bump a little bit early, I thought it would be better for me and my game,” Flowers said.
“I’m expecting for it to be physical, but I’m a physical player myself. I’m going at everybody just as hard.”
Asked about McCarron, Bruton flagged a change of roles for the former Melbourne United champion.
“I think Mitch has proven over his career and his time here, yes, he can run our team, he also plays off the ball, when he was playing with Craig Randall or when he was playing with anyone else so playing multiple spots for him will be good,” he said.
How the Sixers’ revamped roster gels is among the most intriguing questions of NBL24, with bigger men Isaac Humphries and Jacob Wiley surrounded by a gaggle of wings and guards who Bruton hopes will be able to slide up and down the positions.
“Right now, all our guys will play a part on the floor, try to be dynamic, and have guys play multiple positions,” he said.
WHY TRIP TO TASSIE COULD BE LIFE-CHANGING FOR ONE UNITED YOUNG GUN
Melbourne United’s trip across Bass Strait provides an enormous opportunity for its young guns to snare a coveted roster spot.
Melbourne is the only team in the NBL yet to complete its full contingent of local roster content and, as the season draws near, it’s become increasingly likely the spot will be filled by one of its development players.
That means sharpshooter Zac Triplett, defensive dynamo Malith Machar and teen powerhouse Campbell Blogg will be engaged in a battle within the battle when United takes on Tasmania in a pair of friendlies Monday in Ulverstone and Wednesday in Launceston.
With both Matthew Dellavedova and Luke Travers nursing niggles and a trio of United players in action at the FIBA World Cup with Australia and New Zealand, United will take just the four fully-rostered players to face the JackJumpers.
“We are really taking a team that’s full of youth and a lot of training players and development players (who) get a great opportunity to find out what they’re like at NBL level,” coach Dean Vickerman said.
“There’s still a roster spot we have to sign and we believe that will potentially come from one of our development players.
“So these games, for those guys to advance a little bit in their careers, is huge.”
Knox NBL1 national champion and finals MVP Ke’Jhan Feagin gets a well-deserved reward for his efforts in the second-tier, while Sandringham pair Tom Coppens and CJ Asuncion-Byrd.
Plucky teen point guard Joel Foxwell, younger brother of South East Melbourne’s Owen, gets another chance to impress after he suited up for United against California Baptist, earlier this month.
UNITED SQUAD FOR PRE-SEASON TASSIE TRIP
GOOD SIGNS FOR NEW PHOENIX MAN
He’s played all over the world, spent time in Russia with South East Melbourne star Allan Williams and scoring machine Will Cummings has fit in seamlessly in the Heartland.
The bucket-getter is already forming a serious one-two ball-handling partnership with fellow import Gary Browne in an offence that will be powered by the two guards and big men Williams and Mitch Creek.
Straight into training this week after landing in Australia on Friday, Cummings is a natural hooper with a sky-high basketball IQ who makes elite decisions and has no qualms deferring.
“I kind of just go play it to win in a sense,” the Jacksonville native said on SEN.
“It’s kind of just based on you like to have two playmakers on the floor.
“I can kind of do it in different ways. If I need to go out and just fill it up, I can do that just based on my track record.
“I can become a pass first (player). Like if somebody else is going like if you have Gary that’s going or Mitch is going or Alan’s going, you know, I can make sure they’re going to get their touches.
“I’m not just that guy who is going to keep putting it up.
“Just whatever you’ve got to do to get the win is more a sense of how I’m at in my career.”
The Phoenix have been somewhat underrated in their off-season, with key pillars Creek, Williams and Browne all returning, but there’s a quiet confidence under Kelly the team has the tools to give NBL24 a shake.
NEXT FRENCH NEXT STAR ALREADY IN AUS?
A 17-year-old French point guard with a lightning-quick first step is spending the month training with the Perth Wildcats as the NBL courts the potential future Next Star.
Nolan Traore emerged on talent guru Liam Santamaria’s radar while he was scouting another player on the INSEP Academy team that has produced Ousmane Dieng and Rayan Rupert, both Next Stars who became NBA draft picks.
The 191cm floor general averaged 8.6 points and 3.1 assists for the fourth-placed French at last month’s U18 European Championships and, with down time between then and his return to INSEP, the opportunity to spend time with the Wildcats emerged.
“We’ve been talking with Nolan’s agent over a period of time and told them he’s on our radar and a guy we’re watching,” Santamaria said.
“We saw an opportunity in conversation with his agent to partner up and work together to bring him out here for a month, both for his development and to get a bit of a taste of what this level is like and also a chance for us to get a closer, more intense evaluation period of time with him.
“We’re going to look to bring other prospects out where it’s possible.”
Santamaria said the Wildcats were ultra impressed with the teenage baller’s attitude and abilities.
“The Wildcats have enjoyed having Nolan and he’s enjoyed his experience here over the last couple of weeks,” Santamaria said.
“He’s got a lightning-quick first step and good size.
“Talking with (Wildcats’ coach) John Rillie in particular, Nolan’s been able to show that on the practice floor over the past month and they’ve been really impressed with how he’s handled himself.
“John, specifically was talking about ‘man, he’s so explosive when he’s trying to go by guys, he’s really hard to stay in front of’.”
Santamaria said the league would continue to track Traore’s development, with the view to making him a Next Star in NBL25.
Perth boss Danny Mills said having Traore involved was a no-brainer for the club.
“For us we are always going to be forward thinking in regards to our talent ID and evaluation, so when opportunities like bringing Nolan down to Perth to spend a month with us during our training camp present themselves, we will always be open to them,” Mills said.
“It’ll be great to be able to now see him play in a couple of our Wildcats Academy games this weekend, both for himself and our academy athletes.”
The Wildcats have a Next Star on the books for NBL24 in 216cm giant Alex Sarr, who Santamaria was in Perth to visit this week.
“He has some physical tools that are pretty rare within our league in terms of his height, his length and his athleticism — they are genuine NBA measurables,” Santamaria said.
“When our teams go over and we play NBLxNBA pre-season games, our guys will often talk about ‘man, just the size, the length, the athleticism of those NBA guys’ — that is what he brings to the table.
“The challenge for him is to build his capacity to play within a physical style of game in the NBL, but he can already do some things not many other NBL players can do, so he will be fun to watch this season.”
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