Aitcheson rapt about Nuggets' prospects

Josh Aitcheson
Josh Aitcheson
An Otago Nuggets return has been dubbed "huge" by one of the region's top young players.

Former Junior Tall Black Josh Aitcheson said the likely comeback would help not only current talent, but also the next generation.

Last week the Nuggets last week gained provisional entry into next year's national basketball league - the notable proviso being finance.

It would mark the team's first appearance since 2014, when it was forced to withdraw due to financial issues.

Since then local opportunities have been limited at the top level.

For the likes of Aitcheson, a University of Otago student and top club player, a Nuggets return would be a massive boost.

"I think it's huge for me and people my age, but also people younger," the 21-year-old said.

"The past few years there hasn't been a pathway for basketball in Dunedin.

"We've possibly lost a few opportunities with players and lost a few players, because there was nowhere to go for them.

"But we've got such great talent in Dunedin. I think heaps of people will be looking to play for that Nuggets team, especially with the university - students will be able to play for the Nuggets while studying at Otago."

The ability to study alongside playing at home was key for Aitcheson.

He had looked elsewhere for opportunity and spent time with the Southland Sharks and Canterbury Rams.

However, he was doing that while studying at Otago and the balance had been difficult.

Likewise, it had not been the same as representing Otago.

The Nuggets were a team he aspired to as a youngster.

That target was important for the next wave of talent, as well as giving the top high school players the chance to train at a higher level.

Aitcheson has been dominant in club basketball in recent years, while also excelling at representative tournaments.

Notably he had 20 points for Otago in a preseason match against the Southland Sharks this year.

While he has remained in Dunedin, many of his peers have dispersed.

Players had ventured to the United States, Europe and Asia to seek basketball opportunities.

While he had not spoken to anyone specifically, Aitcheson felt they could return.

Others may also see an opportunity, as the university, among other things, was an attraction to lure players.

"I know a lot of people that have had to leave Dunedin to find basketball love Dunedin still.

"I think they'd jump at the chance to come back and play for the Nuggets.

"And I think just another team in the league would provide that opportunity for people to come and test their talent."

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