Basketball: New start for point guard

New Otago Nuggets Lance Allred (left) and Scott O'Gallagher show off some skills at the Edgar...
New Otago Nuggets Lance Allred (left) and Scott O'Gallagher show off some skills at the Edgar Centre yesterday. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
On any other day, Scott O'Gallagher's arrival in the city to play basketball for the Otago Nuggets would have attracted its share of fanfare.

But he was on the same plane as his friend Lance Allred, whose compelling story stole most of the limelight. It is hard to compete with a legally deaf guy who was raised on a polygamous commune, battled an obsessive-compulsive disorder and played alongside LeBron James at the Cleveland Cavaliers.

• Allred's odd road leads to Nuggets 

O'Gallagher, though, could turn out to be the more significant signing. The 26-year-old American will run the point for the Nuggets this season and, if things go well, he wants to return.

His wife, Kristen, and the couple's children, 2-year-old Brooklyn and baby Scott jun, will join O'Gallagher in Dunedin once he is settled.

"We just had our second child on the 5th so we are moving in a new direction," he said.

"It is a new start for us."

The 1.88m guard comes highly recommended. Former Australian coach Cal Bruton spoke highly of O'Gallagher's character and his basketball skills.

That was enough to convince Nuggets coach Alf Arlidge, who is looking forward to his new floor general starting early next week.

"I really think he will be a good fit," Arlidge said.

"We needed a point guard who could run the floor for us and who is going to shore up our back court, where we had a few problems last year.""The thing that excites me the most about him is he can post guys up, he is a very good foul shooter and is just an out-and-out scorer that can really play and pass the ball."

O'Gallagher led Warner Pacific College to three conference championships, where he was a prolific scorer, and remains one of the leading scorers in the school's history.

Professionally, he has played in Europe, where the standard is high. He averaged 17 points in the Bulgarian league and led the scoring while in Macedonia, averaging 23.8.

O'Gallagher met Allred while playing in a tournament in Australia last year and the pair kept in touch via email. It was actually O'Gallagher who suggested Allred join him in New Zealand.

The Nuggets, of course, leapt at the opportunity to sign a bona-fide NBA player. So the pair come as a bit of package deal and are expected to make a big impact on the league.

The franchise has not won an NBL game since April 2008. But with Tall Black Craig Bradshaw also on the roster, the Nuggets should break their 27-game losing streak at some stage this season.

Not all of yesterday's news was good, though. Basketball Otago general manager Markham Brown revealed the Nuggets had lost the battle to sign experienced swingman Kevin Smith, who is understood to have agreed to terms with Auckland.

The Nuggets open their campaign against Auckland on April 13 and will head to Invercargill for a warm-up match against the Southland Sharks on Saturday. 


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