Basketball: Timmins’ life about to change

Dunedin basketballer Sam Timmins sports his new University of Washington shirt as he contemplates...
Dunedin basketballer Sam Timmins sports his new University of Washington shirt as he contemplates his American college career. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Otago's most promising basketball product in decades will pack his bags today in preparation for an exciting college career at the University of Washington.

Sam Timmins best pack lightly, though. There is a mountain of gleaming new gear awaiting his arrival at the Huskies.

The 18-year-old, 2.08m centre has a better sense of what to expect now. The former Otago Nuggets player visited Seattle last week and met his new team-mates.

He got the royal treatment on a whistle-stop two-day tour.‘‘Every recruit gets a paid visit to the campus ... it was mind-blowing,'' Timmins said.

His new home court is just a tad different from what he grew up with at Otago Boys' High School.

For a start, it has a capacity of 10,000. There is a massive screen suspended over the middle of the court and underneath that fancy electronic chandelier is a giant set of Husky eyes looking down on the court.

And there is a picture of the Seattle skyline adorning the edges of the hardwood. It all makes for a rather impressive arena.

‘‘We could get a solid 30 people in the gym at OBs,'' he said, joking.

Life really is about to change for the teenager who grew up in Dunedin. Next to American football players, basketballers are king around campus and the campus is 45,000 strong. Imagine that.

On top of all that adulation, basically everything will be free for Timmins. Free education. Free accommodation. Free food.

He will get a Husky card on arrival which he can swipe at the various food stations for a meal whenever he is feeling peckish.

There is a separate gym for student athletes with all the latest equipment. His accommodation is a serious upgrade on what University of Otago students can expected. It is basically an apartment and each room has its own bathroom.

Timmins will do general studies for his first two years but has plans to study business. He will spend his first two semesters as a redcoat, which essentially means he can train and do everything with his new team except play.

In the United States, you can only play college basketball for four years. It is common for new students to spend some time as a redcoat while they get up to speed before taking a full part in the basketball programme.

The Huskies compete in the Pac-12, and shortly after Timmins arrives he will watch his new team-mates play UCLA from the bench. The Huskies are a young team made up of mostly freshmen and coach Lorenzo Romar is thrilled with his latest recruit.

He came to New Zealand to visit Timmins in September and told the Otago Daily Times he expected his young charge would have a very bright future ahead of him.

‘‘I think the sky is the limit,'' Romar said.

‘‘He could play at the highest level and the highest level I know is the NBA.''

Timmins is from excellent athletic stock.

His father, Brendon Timmins, played 74 games for the Otago rugby team and 42 games for the Highlanders.

His grandmother, Sandra McGookin, was a six-time New Zealand javelin champion, and his mother, Karen Timmins, played netball for Southland.


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