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Damon Bozeman on championship dreams with NBL1 Frankston Blues, team culture and the NBL goal
I remember meeting Damon Bozeman for the first time over a year ago, on a chilly winter’s night at a canteen in the University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba.
Amidst the throng of orders being rushed out for game night dinners clashing with a steady stream of well wishes, the soft spoken 6'2 guard seemed like a typical nice guy, a narrative that would get flipped on its head the moment you saw him on the hardwood. He becomes aggressive, dominant and potently competitive - Bozeman knows what he wants, and is doing everything he can to get it.
Over the course of the NBL1's inaugural season, the guard known as ‘Big Buckets’ has been showing what he can do with the Frankston Blues, and we recently caught up about the season and what’s to come. Even over the phone, Bozeman still oozes that trademark confidence and steely determination that he has become known for.
“I’m feeling real, real good!" Bozeman's enthusiasm was infectious. "When [coach Andrew Harms] gave me the plan and what he wanted from the team and the list of guys he was going to get for the roster he was putting together – I knew it was the best idea and it panned out well. It’s been a great experience and he is a great coach to play for.
"[I'm] getting ready to get into playoff mode now and win the championship.”
Bozeman, a Detroit native, played for Saginaw Valley State University, averaging 14.7 points and 5.4 boards over four college seasons. In 2017, he moved to Australia and joined the Bulleen Boomers in the Big V league, averaging 30 points, 9 rebounds and 2 assists. As recognition for his efforts, Bozeman received a call up to play preseason with the NBL’s Melbourne United.
Last season, Bozeman starred for the Toowoomba Mountaineers in the Queensland Basketball League (QBL), which was when we had our last chat. He led the charge, averaging 33 points, 9.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists to take the Mountaineers from cellar dweller status to a hair short of a playoffs berth, an achievement that sparked discussion around his eligibility for MVP contention.
The Detroit guard has been a passionate advocate of positive team culture, but is also someone who motivates those around him to do better. Bozeman's past teams (Saginaw, Bulleen and Toowoomba) have all had success in this regard, returning from the brink of purgatory to a furious resurgence and then some.
“I feel that’s how its been for my whole life – being a team culture changer. I am always culturally motivated and a team-first guy,” Bozeman shared. “[My mindset has] helped me take my game to another level. Not just in statistics, but overall in me being a better point guard and playmaker. [Coach Harms] said he wanted me to lead the team and he has really helped me be a better point guard with his experience in the role.
Bozeman's season with the Frankston Blue has been a successful one so far. Across 19 games played, the guard has clocked nearly 30 minutes a game and averaging 20.3 points, five rebounds and 2.5 assists. The squad is sitting in equal second place before the final round of the regular season this weekend, and head into playoffs with a guaranteed home final, further strengthening their position to go deep into postseason.
The NBL1 isn't his final stop, however. Bozeman has got his sights set on that next level, with his Frankston coach helping to push for that jump.
Over the past eighteen months, the 25 year old has worked out with NBL teams, and when we spoke, Bozeman's goal was clear - he wants to get that shot at Australia’s top-tier league.
“I feel like I’m a lot closer than I was when I first got here to Australia. I’m going to keep working hard and plugging away and hopefully sooner than later, I will get there. Every day, to get better on and off the court and just be a better person, playing at the highest level I can play at."
Despite the focus on that NBL goal, Bozeman knows the importance of not losing sight of what lies ahead. “First, my only goal is to win this NBL1 championship with Frankston, and hopefully we can accomplish that.”
If what we have seen from the American is anything to go by, there is just so much potential that lies in wait for Bozeman - and we can't wait to see it.