CJ Bruton: Taking the next step

It was no secret to anyone that NBL stalwart CJ Bruton wanted to stay in the game once he hung up his kicks after the 2013/14 NBL season.

View image | gettyimages.com

The six-time NBL champion, which included playing for six NBL clubs after being drafted in the 1997 NBA draft has taken up the role of head coach for SEABL men's team, the Brisbane Spartans. View image | gettyimages.com To everyday fans of the Australian basketball scene, the Spartans is home to Adelaide 36er Brendan Teys throughout the off-season.

The Pick and Roll were fortunate enough to have Queensland correspondent Jon Guarna take some time out of CJ's busy schedule to speak with him about his new upcoming challenges. You can listen to the full interview at the bottom of the article.

Bruton, who has always been a lock to transition from player to another role somewhere along the bench, speaks of his experiences having to take his talents from on the court, to the sidelines.

"Being able to [play at a high standard] on the floor has been amazing, but now to be able to share that with other players like I have other teams, it's something that I've wanted to do, giving back to the game.

"It's also helping players achieve what they want to achieve throughout their careers as well."

The head coach of the Spartans speaks about recruiting being his biggest challenge throughout his off-season tenure.

Having to find the right balance of players for both on and off the court in terms of promoting the game as well as giving back to the community. It's always been a tough gig for anyone, let alone a first year head coach, trying to select players who not only have the talent on the floor, but that motivation to put in the extra hours behind the scenes.

Speaking of recruiting, Bruton solidified the Spartan's import spot with the signing of James Silvie.

Bear, as he's known, spent last year in the Northern Territory playing for the Darwin Eagles after his college career at Texas A&M.

"He's 6 foot 7, can play from 2 to the 4, very mobile. [Silvie] looks like James Harden, he just doesn't quite have the James Harden game yet.

"He's very athletic, can really stroke the ball. He does get to the basket as James harden does...a very skilled kid" - CJ Bruton explains.

While the Spartans didn't have quite the successful season last year as they had hoped, most of their core group returns for another crack at the post-season. With just seven wins to their name, to go with 19 defeats, Bruton will start from scratch with some of his players as he looks to have balanced up his roster moving forward.

Bruton emphasised his keys to getting back to the playoffs, some which speak volumes of past Spartan's teams.

"Looking after the ball, making sure you can contain the basketball [and] I think sharing the basketball as a team. Not so much [of] just having three guys scoring double figures and scoring high numbers as it has been in the past.

"There's a lot of depth in the SEABL system...Everytime you have more than 20 turnovers you don't see many teams winning."

After looking forward to a positive start to his coaching career, CJ certainly still has his eyes on the big time. Mentioning that he's had multiple discussions with potentially being involved with a start-up NBL franchise in the Queensland/Brisbane area. View image | gettyimages.com "I did have a conversation in my time up here in Brisbane and have had a few over the coaching side of things, and being involved in the basketball team if it does come to light." Bruton mentions.

With such an accomplished resume already on CJ Bruton's paperwork, plenty of fans are sure that this will be another tick on his list before stepping up to bigger and better things. I'm sure I speak on behalf of the Australian basketball community wishing him luck in his new adventures.

You can listen to Jon Guarna's full interview with CJ Bruton below: