Alex Toohey emerges as early standout amongst talented Next Stars crop
Toohey raised some eyebrows when he decommitted from Gonzaga to join the Sydney Kings, but the decision is paying dividends.
NBL24 kicked off with arguably the deepest ever class of Next Stars. French big man Alexandre Sarr - a contender for the #1 selection in next year’s NBA draft - headlined the group. He headed down under alongside the likes of AJ Johnson, Trentyn Flowers and Bobi Klintman - who all have lottery pick potential. Then you have Ariel Hukporti and Mantas Rubštavičius fighting to break into the second round, alongside Aussie locals in Alex Toohey and Rocco Zikarsky.
As written in a previous article, Toohey is Australia’s top 2004-born forward prospect. But the 6’8 talent also has guard skills, making him a matchup nightmare on the perimeter. Toohey is a product of Australia’s relatively young NBA Global Academy, which already features Josh Giddey and Dyson Daniels among its most distinguished alumni. A native of Canberra, Toohey didn’t have to stray too far from home to find world class training opportunities.
Toohey is coming off a productive season in the NBL1, where he averaged 17.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists across sixteen matches. The 19 year old can score anywhere between the three-point line and the paint, however his developing jump shot is the biggest talking point. Toohey made just ten of 37 three-point looks (2.3 attempts per game) in the 2023 NBL1 season, but the fact that he won’t shy away from the perimeter is encouraging. A productive year was capped off in style when Toohey won the NBL1 East Young Player of the Year award, and at one point he looked set to join famed NCAA program Gonzaga. But it wasn’t to be, as the allure of the NBL’s Next Stars program proved too strong.
Entering NBL24, Toohey was one of just two local Next Stars, alongside Brisbane’s Rocco Zikarsky. Toohey is yet to make an appearance on most NBA draft boards, but his college commitment and subsequent U-turn likely played a part in that. American scouts simply haven’t seen enough of the Sydney Kings rookie, although that may well change in the coming weeks. Toohey may not have joined the NBL with the same level of fanfare as Sarr, Johnson or Flowers, but he has quickly emerged as one of the program’s standout prospects.
The 2023 NBL Blitz gave us a glimpse into Toohey’s talents, at least for those who didn’t follow his standout high school career. The youthful wing averaged 12.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists in his 22.8 minutes per game, while making four of ten attempts from downtown (40%). Few would have expected Toohey to become an integral part of Sydney’s rotation so early on, as a rookie, but Kings head coach Mahmoud Abdelfattah saw something in the young tyro.
“Alex Toohey, obviously I knew how talented he was, but I’d never seen him in person until him stepping on the floor at Hoops Capital,” Abdelfattah told SEN. “I’ve watched film, but it’s different when you watch somebody in person, and just the strides he takes, his routine, his demeanour, his work ethic.
“I think a lot of people will be really surprised with the steps he’s taken and is going to take this season.”
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