Nuggets debut six years in the making

Working out . . . Aspiring Nugget Darcy Knox trains at the Edgar Centre yesterday.PHOTO: GERARD O...
Darcy Knox had waited years for last week. When it finally arrived, he did not disappoint.

The 25-year-old point guard made his National Basketball League, and Otago Nuggets, debut on Wednesday.

A night later he had eight points, seven assists, five rebounds and played some impressive defence in his first start.

It was a very solid contribution to help his team to two first-up wins on its return to the league.

The former Otago Boys’ High School player had waited six years for that debut.

He played a few minutes in a pre-season game in 2014. Later that year he suited up, but did not get on, in a game against the Supercity Rangers.

That was his first year out of school and also the last time the team took the court.

In his time away, Knox has developed considerably and is one of several Dunedin-based players who will look to carry on the strong start.

The nerves may be a little less of a factor too, as they play the Taranaki Mountainairs and Franklin Bulls over the next two nights in Auckland.

‘‘[It was a] long time coming,’’ he said.

‘‘I was pretty nervous in the first game, but stoked to be out there.

‘‘Happy to be finally part of playing at that NBL standard.’’

Aside from one season at college in the United States, he has resisted the urge to chase an NBL spot elsewhere while studying in Dunedin.

He has been one of club basketball’s top players in recent years and last year won the league’s Most Valuable Player award.

That loyalty has finally paid off and while the NBL opportunity was important, doing it for Otago made it all the sweeter.

‘‘I’d much rather be close to home playing for my home and be around my community than be somewhere else.

‘‘So I’m quite happy for it to be here, [rather] than somewhere else. I was considering other places but it didn’t work out.’’

He was enjoying the step up and felt the pace of the game was the biggest adjustment. Despite speed and fitness being two of his hallmarks, it was something he was still adapting too.

‘‘It’s fun playing proper defence, getting after it on D, moving the ball, everyone playing unselfish basketball.

‘‘Playing at that high pace, high standard, it’s a lot of fun.’’

Both Taranaki and Franklin will pose tough challenges.

The Mountainairs won two of their first three matches — and played a fourth last night.

In Derone Raukawa and Marcel Jones they have an elite perimeter scoring duo that will carry the team.

The Bulls could be equally dangerous, despite a slow start. Swingman Isaac Davidson has returned from college to be one of the league’s best players in week one.

Otago-product Sam Timmins and Auckland’s Dominique Kelman-Poto also form a very solid front-line.


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