Basketball: Dickel extends Otago contract

Mark Dickel with some of the rising stars of Otago basketball yesterday. Back, from left: Laura Taylor (13), Kate Edwards (13), Esmae Knox (15), Holly Armstrong (13), Brieana Shea (13), Dickel and Claudia Flaws (15); front, Aleisha Ruske (15), June Hendry (14), Jessie Clark-Grant (14) Georgia Te Au (16) and Amelia Jory (15). Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Mark Dickel with some of the rising stars of Otago basketball yesterday. Back, from left: Laura Taylor (13), Kate Edwards (13), Esmae Knox (15), Holly Armstrong (13), Brieana Shea (13), Dickel and Claudia Flaws (15); front, Aleisha Ruske (15), June Hendry (14), Jessie Clark-Grant (14) Georgia Te Au (16) and Amelia Jory (15). Photo by Gregor Richardson.

Former Tall Black Mark Dickel has extended his contract with Basketball Otago and could be in the city for up to another three years.

Dickel, who was one year through a two-year deal to play for the Nuggets and work for Basketball Otago as the director of development, has agreed to extend the term by a year with the option of tacking on another year.

That is good news for Basketball Otago and the Nuggets.

Dickel's silky skills on the basketball court are highly prized but it is arguably his leadership which is more valuable these days.

Basketball Otago general manager Markham Brown said Dickel had been doing some sterling work developing local talent and promoting the game.

"He has been an amazing help to the local guys; way more than we anticipated," Brown said.

"The guy never switches off from basketball. He is very positive with everything he does and is doing a fantastic job in the development role."

Dickel was also crucial in helping lure Leon Henry and BJ Anthony to the Nuggets last season.

Attracting players of their calibre has always been a challenge, but Dickel's reputation and friendship with the pair helped make it possible.

"I'm happy with the direction things are going and thought it would be easier for the organisation to keep going forward, and to grow our programme, if people know I'm going to be here for a longer period of time," Dickel said.

The 35-year-old has made no secret of his desire to return to the United States and coach in the college system.

"I want to be a coach in the university system and in that environment.

"There are so many more opportunities over there but, at the same time, I'm more than happy to be here for the next four or five years and to help develop the next breed of coaches and players."

Playing for the Nuggets was only "part of my job," he said.

"My real job is the development side of it. The fact I can still play is a bonus.

"I've already taken all I want to get out of basketball; now I just want to try and make it so other people can do the same."

Dickel believes the Nuggets can improve on last season's six wins and feature in the post-season.

"If we can have a bit of luck and all stay healthy, then I think we can be one of the top four teams. I don't think that is a stretch.

"A big key for us will be signing James Ross, Riki Buckrell and Sam King. They really improved last year and we have to find a way to keep them involved.

"I feel like we have a pretty good nucleus as long as we can get the local guys back."