Kian Dennis giving it his best shot with the Bullets
The term rising star is used often in the realm of sports, but for 18-year-old Kian Dennis the reference fits.
Having first played the game on the Sunshine Coast at age 11, he would soon decide on pursuing the sport as a career as he explained to The Pick and Roll.
"When I was in grade 9, I had decided to really get serious about it and I got a scholarship to Brisbane Boys College and started boarding school there," Dennis outlined enthusiastically. "I made my first Queensland team around then, and just went from there and I realised what I wanted to do."
Although he is still young, he is focused on taking every opportunity that comes his way.
“I am definitely an energy giver who likes to talk a lot on the court - which I feel are my biggest strengths," added Dennis. "I think I am strong in the paint and athletic, so I like to get up to dunk and be ready to do whatever my coach needs me to do."
It was this vocal leadership and his air-borne talents in finishing off highlight-reel dunks that really made Dennis a fan favourite at the recent FIBA 3x3 U18 Asia Cup. Dennis was the spark plug that helped lead Australia to bronze in the tournament that was held in Cyberjaya, Malaysia. He also took part in the Nike all-Asia Camp in China earlier this year, an event in which he was named the Most Outstanding Player.
Dennis is hyper-competitive, and when he steps onto the court his inner beast is unleashed. Yet he is far more relaxed away from the hardwood, joking that he had a 'Jekyll and Hyde' personality.
“Yeah the on-court me is really angry and competitive, whereas off the court I am the more laid back laughing kid," laughed Dennis. "On the court I am definitely louder."
Combining his talent with hard work, the possibilities for Dennis are endless given his youth. Having been picked up by the Brisbane Bullets at the start of this year as a development player, he realises what the opportunity could mean for his career.
"It’s an amazing feeling and something you cannot really describe – a real once in a lifetime opportunity," said Dennis. "But I know that if I didn’t do all the hard work when I was younger and put in everyday, I wouldn’t have gotten the opportunities I’ve been given.
"Although I know I have that first foot in the door, I know I have a lot to work on and hopefully one day be a full contracted player in the NBL and make the Boomers."
The Bullets decision to take a chance on him and help build his career has only motivated Dennis even more. He is aware of the advantages that training with the squad adds.
"It’s perfect!" enthused Dennis. "Being able to guard guys like Jason Cadee and Nathan Sobey is really going to help me in the future. Doing that against representative players makes it a piece of cake when I have to guard players my own age."
He also takes great pride in the opportunity to train alongside somebody he has also looked up to and crafted his game off.
"It’s actually pretty funny playing with Nathan Sobey because last year I did review on him and tried to base my game off Sobes," bubbled Dennis. "I like to base my game more towards a guard’s perspective because even though I am a little taller than most guards, I like to have the advantage by training and learning in that way."
While running with this opportunity he still is ready to continue to take on representative squad duties which make up the foundation of his short term goals. He went on to explain that he was not ready to settle for second best, an attribute which will take him far throughout his career.
“I have under 20’s state trials coming up so I want to make that squad and go to the national championships in Canberra early next year, and hopefully win gold there," he added. "For me personally I want to be named MVP during that tournament."
Not lacking confidence, Dennis would go on to explain that he would not be where he is today if it were not for some guidance from some of his coaches.
"My coach from BBC [Brisbane Boy’s College], Mike Ayanbadejo, he really taught me how to play and understand the game," said Dennis. "The other coach that really helped me out was from the AIS, Adam Caporn. He is the only reason why I am an elite level player. He pushed me and helped me more than anybody else I can think of."
With eyes on the future and proud of what he has achieved so far, Dennis wanted to share some advice for other young players looking to make it big on the hardwood.
“Put in the work when you’re younger every day," shared Dennis. "If you get cut or don’t make a team, you just have to push through the adversity and want it even more the next time."
It is this work ethic paired with growing talent that will ensure that Kian Dennis will be able to make an impact in the NBL at some stage in the hear future.