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9 William Mcdowell-white (AUS), 9 William MCDOWELL-WHITE (Australia)
David Hein's Eye on the Future
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Why Basketball Australia hopes McDowell-White succeeds with Sydney Kings

REGENSBURG (David Hein's Eye on the Future) - Basketball Australia naturally is pleased when any young Australian can play and succeed in the domestic NBL league. But Aussie leaders might be hoping a bit harder that William McDowell-White can do well.

McDowell-White performing well with the Sydney Kings would go a long way in helping BA and their efforts to push the game Down Under.

The NBL received a boost of attention when American Terrance Ferguson decided to turn down his offer to play at the University of Arizona and turn professional with the Adelaide 36ers.

It showed that Australia is a viable option for young talents to develop and also get drafted with the 18-year-old Ferguson expected to be chosen in the first 20 picks of the 2017 NBA Draft.

McDowell-White is not included in the NBA mock drafts but his success with the Kings could mean even more for basketball in Australia.

The guard originally planned on joining his brother Darryl and attend Fresno State University in California. But William could not gain academic eligibility and decided to return home when Sydney offered him a spot as their Development Player.

"It feels good to be home, back in Australia," McDowell-White told the Herald Sun after the decision just before the New Year. "I'm pretty excited to hopefully play and get the season started for myself."

He added: "(The move) came up a few months ago first but we said no. But when some more injuries came about at the Kings I decided I would rather come home, considering I couldn't play college this year. It was a pretty easy decision."

McDowell-White, who will turn 19 in April, made his NBL debut on January 7 and picked up eight points and two rebounds in 10 minutes against Perth. In his five NBL games, McDowell-White has averaged 3.0 points, 1.4 assists, 0.6 rebounds and 0.6 steals in 12 minutes.

In addition to playing with and against adult players, McDowell-White also has the chance to play for Kings coach Andrew Gaze - a legendary player in Australian basketball having appeared in five Olympics.

"He is one of the greatest to play the game. To pick his brain every day is a blessing. I'm going to have an edge over some of the other guys coming through," McDowell-White said in the Herald Sun piece.

Gaze for his part really likes what he sees in McDowell-White.

"He is a genuine, genuine Olympian. He’s an Olympian," Gaze told the Fox Sports website about McDowell-White.

"He's only 18, but I've been around a little while. That one session we saw — if he keeps working at it, and has the work ethic that he needs — he’s a future Olympian."

McDowell-White still hopes to gain academic eligibility for college in the United States. But Ferguson getting drafted this June might just show him and other young Australians that they don’t have to leave the country to have success.

Another high level Australian who left for the United States appears set for a possible return home as well with Tom Wilson apparently ready to sign with an agent and possibly join the NBL.

Wilson initially enrolled Southern Methodist University but decided to transfer the end of 2016 after head coach Larry Brown left the school. Wilson moved to Boise State in mid-January but then chose to leave BSU as well after finding out he would have to sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules.

Getting Wilson back to Australia could help others from leaving in the first case.

The Brisbane Bullets meanwhile have shown a commitment to youngsters which has kept two top Australians at home.

Matt Kenyon has become a regular part of the rotation in Brisbane, averaging more than 20 minutes with 4.8 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.0 assists over the last four NBL games.

And Kenyon, who will turn 19 on February 8, is playing for Brisbane head coach Andrej Lemanis, who is also the Australian senior national team head coach.

The other Brisbane youngster is 1999-born Tom Fullarton, who said one of his role models is Joe Ingles because he fought his way through to the NBA by playing professionally instead of going to college. Fullarton has not yet played for the Bullets in the NBL this season.

The importance of having Kenyon and Fullarton in Australia also impacts the national team program. Both were at home in Australia and available played at the FIBA Oceania U18 Championship 2016 in early December. But they could not stop Australia from losing in the final to New Zealand, meaning the Aussies would miss the FIBA U19 World Championship for the first time.

This was just the natural consequence of the situation of Australians leaving the country as arguably the nation’s top five players from the 1998-born generation were all in the United States - McDowell-White, Isaac Humphries and Harry Froling at US colleges, Deng Gak at high school in the States and Matur Maker, younger brother of Thon Maker, in a Canadian high school. The Australians instead had to bring four players born in 1999 or 2000 to the Oceania tournament. 

If the NBL could start giving more youngsters a chance of succeeding that could lead to more of them staying home instead of heading to the United States for high school or college.

That’s why the heads over at Basketball Australia might just be hoping that William McDowell-White can really perform well this season and beyond for the Sydney Kings.

David Hein


FIBA's columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA.

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David Hein

David Hein

Walk into the media tribune of any major basketball event and there's a good chance you will come across David Hein. Having covered dozens of FIBA events, including numerous women's and youth events, there are few players Dave doesn't know about, and few players who don't know him. His sporting curiosity means he is always looking to unearth something new and a little bit special. David Hein's Eye on the Future is a weekly column digging out the freshest basketball talent worldwide and assessing what the basketball landscape will look like a couple of years down the line.