Written for nbl.com.au by Liam Santamaria
Adelaide 36ers trio Nathan Sobey, Mitch Creek and Matt Hodgson are heading to the U.S. this month for a series of NBA trials.
Departing with the support of 36ers management and coaching staff, the young Sixers hope to become the next Aussie talents to play in the world’s best competition.
Sobey, who enjoyed a breakout 2016-17 NBL season with Adelaide, has received invitations from four separate NBA teams to participate in free agent mini-camps; the Brooklyn Nets, Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Clippers and a fourth team who has requested not to be named at this time.
Having recently completed an outstanding stint with Greek club PAOK, the high-flying guard hopes to secure a roster spot for next month’s NBA Summer League by impressing at the workouts.
Creek, who has already locked in a Summer League spot with the Utah Jazz, will participate in Utah’s free agent mini-camp ahead of playing with the Jazz in both the Salt Lake City (July 3-6) and Las Vegas (July 7-17) Summer Leagues.
According to Marquis Taylor of Mogul Sports Group, which acts for both Creek and Sobey, “Creek received several NBA mini-camp and Summer League offers”, committing to the Jazz.
Sixers centre Matt Hodgson will also participate in an NBA mini-camp, with his management preferring not to name the host team.
Adelaide players enjoyed increased exposure to NBA scouts this past season, due to the enormous interest in exciting young import Terrance Ferguson. The 18-year-old brought scouts Down Under by the plane full and is likely to be snapped up in the first round of this month’s NBA Draft.
Taylor, who has also helped Corey Webster score an invitation to trial with the Dallas Mavericks, believes the Ferguson-factor played an important role.
“Having T-Ferg in Adelaide definitely helped expose NBL players to the NBA scouts,” Taylor said.
“But this process still required considerable negotiation. There has been plenty of communication back and forth with NBA GMs, garnering interest and formalizing offers.”
For Sobey, the chance to display his skills in front of NBA coaches and executives at four separate camps is a massive opportunity.
“I’m really just looking forward to getting over there and seeing where I’m at,” Sobey told NBL Media.
“I’m keen to find out what I need to work on and all that sort of stuff, and just go from there and see what happens.”
Sobey recently led PAOK into the second round of the Greek playoffs, averaging 15 points per game across four playoff appearances. The experience – playing against some of the best teams in Europe – has made him a stronger, more effective player. Perhaps even NBA ready.
“The competition over there is pretty physical and they let a lot more things go, so obviously playing with that physicality has really helped me,” Sobey said.
“Having to do a job with the counter moves and play through contact were the biggest things, being able to take those hits and bumps and still be able to make plays.
“To get that sort of experience – seeing what needs to be done and what to work on – has been great.” n
Sobey has hardly taken a day off since the 36ers were eliminated from the NBL Finals back in February. After finishing up in Greece, the 26-year-old has been grinding in his home town of Warrnambool; preparing himself for the opportunity of a lifetime.
“The skills obviously stayed sharp training every day and I haven’t had too much of a break which is probably beneficial for me,” Sobey said. “Hopefully during these NBA workouts I should be feeling pretty sharp.”
Creek, who has now fully recovered from the broken hand he suffered earlier this year, launched his way onto NBA radars with impressive play at last year’s Australian Basketball Challenge in Brisbane. His rare combination of size, strength, quickness and athleticism piqued the interest of numerous NBA scouts, who then closely followed his play throughout NBL17.
“This is a whole new playing field and I’m just really eager and excited for the opportunity,” Creek told NBL Media.
“I’m humbled to be able to go over and represent myself, my family, my loved ones, the City of Horsham and now Adelaide as my adopted family.”
The Jazz had two Australians on their roster last season, Dante Exum and former NBL player Joe Ingles. According to Creek, Ingles has established the blueprint for what he believes he can offer at the NBA level.
“Joe probably wasn’t the most standout player at the camps, or the workouts, or the games, but his tenacity and what he brings to the club I think I can also bring to a certain extent,” Creek said.
“That is, play an important defensive role, have a very high communication level and IQ on the court. When I’m open, shoot the ball and when I have a chance to attack in transition, finish strong and create for others.”
Of course, it also doesn’t hurt that the Jazz have become familiar with Aussie ballers.
“I’m super excited that they’ve already had two Aussies,” Creek said.
“They say everything comes in threes, so fingers crossed I’m the third.”