NBL-bound Marshall Nelson backs Canberra Gunners pathway
Advertisement

NBL-bound Marshall Nelson backs Canberra Gunners pathway

His stint with the Canberra Gunners convinced the Illawarra Hawks to sign Marshall Nelson in a sign of just how valuable the ACT's high performance pathway is despite its uncertain future.

Hawks coach and Canberra product Rob Beveridge's decision to send Nelson to play with the Gunners in the SEABL paved the way for the rising star to earn an NBL contract.

Former Canberra Gunners star Marshall Nelson has signed with the Illawarra Hawks.

Former Canberra Gunners star Marshall Nelson has signed with the Illawarra Hawks.

Photo: Terry Cunningham

Nelson could soon return to Canberra when the Hawks meet the Adelaide 36ers at the Tuggeranong Basketball Stadium in an NBL pre-season match on September 14.

But the most pressing matter on the ACT basketball scene is the uncertain future of the Gunners and Canberra Capitals Academy after Basketball Australia withdrew its support of the SEABL.

Basketball ACT chief executive Michael Haynes is adamant the ACT's senior high performance teams will survive a cull but changes could be afoot with the squads set to join a lower standard of competition if the SEABL goes under.

Advertisement

Nelson says the SEABL was the perfect avenue for him to find his feet on the court, following in the footsteps of current and former NBA players Patty Mills, Andrew Bogut, Matthew Dellavedova, and Ryan Broekhoff to play in the league.

"It was a great opportunity to be able to come into a system where I have the ball in my hands a lot and I’d be able to make mistakes and grow as a player," Nelson said.

"I hadn’t played in a while before I came to the Gunners and then I had those injuries [broken fingers] so it was good to get the rust off and just play with a good group of guys. It was really good for my development.

"[Gunners coach] Shawn McEachin came to one of the practices and he was just looking at all the young guys and the development players. Then he said he wanted a scoring guard and Bevo put a good word in.

Loading

"I ended up going there, it was kind of close to Wollongong so I could stay in Wollongong and be around the team and work out here. It just worked out well with my schedule. I had a job as well here. I worked here during the week and then I’d go there on weekends and play."

The Gunners and Capitals Academy could shift to the NSW Waratah League, while Haynes is open to exploring the prospect of playing in Victoria following murmurs about a new competition being formed.

Either move would likely represent a cavernous drop in the standard of the opposition for the region's high performance teams, however it could allow the Canberra sides to become far more competitive.

The Gunners team finished a nightmare season with 20 losses and zero wins, as Nelson averaged 16.1 points and 3.2 assists in his 15 games, while the Capitals Academy dropped 13 of its final 15 games to finish 12th in a 16-team league.

Marshall is a Western Australian product that shifted to Wollongong last year to chase an opportunity with the Hawks, and the move paid off via the 24-year-old's Canberra detour.

The looming pre-season match in Tuggeranong is an audition for Canberra's ability to host a regular season fixture, with the Hawks open to shifting a game to the capital as early as this season.

Marshall Nelson has signed with the Illawarra Hawks.

Marshall Nelson has signed with the Illawarra Hawks.

Photo: Terry Cunningham

It is another chance for Illawarra to build on their budding partnership with Basketball ACT which will see the Hawks play games in Canberra and strengthen the capital's development pathways.

"It’ll be exciting, playing at Tuggeranong. I haven’t actually been there yet but that will be really good, hopefully I’ll see some of the Gunners fans there and some of the old teammates," Nelson said.

NBL PRE-SEASON

Friday, September 14: Illawarra Hawks v Adelaide 36ers at Tuggeranong Basketball Stadium, 7.30pm.