Otago Nugget Luke Aston passes on some shooting tips to
members of the Diggers junior basketball programme at the
Edgar Centre in Dunedin yesterday. From left are Gabriella
Oswald (10), Ripeka Potiki (6), Savanna Westgate (10),
Archie Campbell (8), Grayson Westgate (9) and Travis Smith
(11). Photo by Linda Robertson.
Promising basketballer Luke Aston has had to do a lot of
growing up in the last two years.
The 22-year-old left for the United States to take up a
sporting scholarship at Santa Rosa Junior College in 2010.
It was meant to be the adventure of a lifetime but he left
the country with a heavy heart. His mother, Marie Aston, had
been diagnosed with cancer and died on July 4 this year.
Luke returned to New Zealand on his birthday - June 28 - and
spent a few precious days with his mother before she died.
He plans to remain in Dunedin for the near future to help
support his family, particular his younger brother Liam (16).
Liam is also a promising young basketballer and is in Nelson
with the Otago Boys' High School team, which is contesting
the national secondary schools finals this week.
"I've been looking after him," Aston said.
"My dad was in Queenstown with work and he has just moved
down in the last few weeks. My sister (Erin, 24) was here as
well. But we spend a lot of time together, because my dad is
working so much."
The 2m tall swingman has unfinished business in the States
and plans to return at some stage to complete his degree in
physical therapy and further his basketball education.
He enjoyed the environment there and found the level of
Aston did not get as much court time as he would have liked,
with a knee injury holding him back during the first season,
and he also tore a ligament in his hand and played with heavy
strapping during his second season.
But he plans to make the most of the opportunities here for
"Markham Brown [Basketball Otago general manager] has
organised for me to start working here and to play for the
Nuggets next year, so I'm going to take that opportunity."
He has been training with former Tall Blacks point guard Mark
Dickel and working on his outside game. The Nuggets struggled
to hit three-pointers this season and Aston builds his game
around his ability to hit shots from the outside.
"Since getting back and working out with Mark, I've actually
got a lot better. His work rate and work ethic is just
"The Nuggets had a good season and every year is a step
forward and I just want to come in and do whatever I can to
help the team."
Aston got limited minutes for the Nuggets in 2010. Most of
his opportunities came late in the quarter or towards the end
of the game but he held his own.
While Aston has not yet signed with the Nuggets, he has made
a commitment to play. He cannot receive any payment for
playing, as it would prevent him returning to the States on a
"My mum wanted me to get my degree, so that is important. I
want to finish that off. I had a good time over there and
learnt a lot.
"It is nice to be there to be able to study and play. But it
was hard being away from home and being so far away.
"I left five days after I decided [to go], and got there and
I had nowhere to live or anything, and nothing sorted. But
once you fit in, it is good. There is a whole bunch of people
doing the same thing as you and it is great."
• Otago Boys lost its game against Melville yesterday, 68-62.