Sam Froling has been on the radar of scouts for years with his resume including state and national team selections, as well as some encouraging play in the SEABL for the Centre of Excellence.
Now, after a season in college, he’s a key piece on Dandenong’s roster for the NBL1 season and a tantalising NBL free-agent.
Froling is a high-level prospect that already possesses a rare combination of skills for a player of his height. This uniqueness is close to being unmatched at the NBL1 level and has him projected as an ideal big-man in the modern game in any league.
“Sam really fits the new age style of play, being 7-feet and possessing the skills of a guard,” says Rod Anderson.
Anderson is the coach of the Townsville Heat in the Queensland Basketball League and offers a unique perspective as he has had both Sam and his brother Harry on the Heat practice floor together.
“He can knock down the triple, put the ball on the deck, and then he has that ‘Froling basketball IQ’ to create for others.”
Sam put that package on display over the weekend where he quickly slotted into a high-minute role to help Dandenong go 2-0 with him in the line-up.
He showed the full repertoire on offense as he proved far too slippery and skillful for the defense in the post as a scorer, he moved the ball when needed, knocked down a handful of jump-shots, rebounded and kick-started transition plays, and capped it all off with an emphatic dunk after a three-point shot fake against Diamond Valley.
When comparing Sam with Harry, their physical profile is certainly the first difference that comes to mind.
“Harry is a bigger size, so he relies on bullying defenders, whereas Sam is a lot more finesse. They play with their own style and flair so comparisons between the two are difficult. They’re both very tough, very smart, and highly skilled play-makers for players of their size,” said Anderson.
The differences in their bodies absolutely shapes the way that they each play.
Sam can play more power-forward minutes with his better defensive mobility and he is more likely to put the ball on the floor. Harry has more strength and is a center on defense, although he does like to launch the three-ball with more regularity from spot-up situations than Sam.
Personality and confidence is something that jumps out with Harry and this past NBL season has shown that with the way Harry plays and the way that he carries himself. At first glance, Sam might not be quite the same in that aspect but the competitiveness and fire is still there.
“Sam’s toughness and competitiveness is another thing that puts him in the elite category,” said Anderson. “He came to a few trainings for our Townsville Heat team last year before he went to college and I put them on separate teams. The game turned into a dunk fest. When it was done we all sat around in awe of the level those two went to!”
Sam can get Dandenong to a new level and that has already shown. Looking back to Dandenong’s season opener is a prime example with the athleticism of the Centre of Excellence causing the Rangers a myriad of issues. Josh Oswald was played off the floor with Keli Leaupepe, a physical beast but undersized nonetheless, moved up to power-forward for extended stretches to try and peg back the lead with better mobility on the floor.
Froling isn’t an athlete that will blow you away but he does glide around the floor really well for his height and has enough of an athletic and mobility component to go with his smarts and shot-blocking to become a good option on defense.
Offensively, his partnership with point-guard Lucas Barker should flourish quickly with Barker able to zip passes all over the floor and play in a forceful yet controlled manner – something which is a real highlight of this team.
Off the floor, the development of Sam’s body is an obvious focus and an area that will impact what heights he ultimately reaches in his career.
“He does have to keep working on his body but that is something that will come in the next few years. I can see him contributing at the NBL level just like Harry did this year,” said Anderson.
Will he be the 2019-20 NBL Rookie of the Year winner - time will tell. Let’s enjoy this NBL1 chapter first.