Five takeaways for Australian and New Zealand talent from the Men's NBA Academy Games
Just who is Johnny Furphy? Which Kiwis stood out?
Between the National Junior Championships (AJC) and the NBL1 East season, there’s plenty of data points these days for homegrown prospects from the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) against local competition. At times throughout the year, however, the Academy ventures overseas, presenting a new context through which to assess upcoming talent, and a new audience who will similarly form their own opinions.
As such, we often see players ‘blow up’ after strong performances overseas. In 2020, a somewhat known but vastly undervalued Josh Giddey led a stacked NBA Global Academy team to victory in the Spanish-hosted Torneo Junior Ciutat de L'Hospitalet. It was a stretch of play that put his name firmly on the map, and while it took a fantastic season in the NBL to get his name into first round draft conversation, it was his play in Barcelona that catapulted his stock enough to get him picked up as an NBL Next Star in the first place.
Likewise, forward Alex Toohey’s justly high pedigree emanates largely from his performance in last year’s NBA Academy Games and subsequent offers. Would he have had enough of a name for himself to pick up a Next Star offer of his own this month, if not for a slew of high major interest and a commitment to Gonzaga that stemmed from his performance in the US?
Earlier this month, two teams featuring Australian talent —the Centre of Excellence (CoE) and NBA Global Academy squads— departed Canberra for Atlanta, Georgia, where they competed in the 2023 NBA Academy Games, with players gaining valuable experience against elite global talent within their age group, whilst looking to make a name for themselves individually like Toohey the year prior.
What did we learn from this year’s games?
Johnny Furphy has arrived
Where the hell did Johnny Furphy come from? Is he the best player at the CoE right now? And is he Jacob Furphy’s brother?
These are only some of questions that came en masse to my inbox over the past several weeks about the wing, as he blew up over the course of the Academy Games.
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