Tyson Demos has a new challenge on his hands.
The former Gold Coast Blaze and Illawarra Hawks guard is no longer pestering opponents on the defensive end or hitting dagger three-pointers. Instead, he has turned his attention to his roots and culture, being named the new president of Australian Indigenous Basketball (AIB).
Demos’ new position is a big one that encompasses a number of different roles, but according to the man himself, the biggest thing he wants to do is provide Indigenous players the pathway to professional basketball that some have never seen.
“I think there’s a lot of potential in the Indigenous basketball scene,” Demos said.
“There are a lot of players that haven’t had the opportunity to represent a state team or an NBL team. Building the program up like that is definitely one of the goals.
“Another one of my roles will be going around Australia and scouting some of these untapped talents that can’t afford to go to a state camp or things like that.
“Those are some of the camps we want to put on to try and find some of this Indigenous talent that is untapped.”
Demos added taking Indigenous basketball to as many places as possible is a critical part of ensuring the players have a chance to showcase their skills and help their local communities, in what shapes to be one of the busiest years in Indigenous basketball.
“Using basketball and taking it out into the community. Doing different community events, fundraising, is so important” he said.
“We have got the nationals coming up in December and also the Trans-Tasman series in Australia this year vs New Zealand. We are also looking at doing the world games in Australia.
“We have got a lot to plan for over the next few months and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Two players that have the attributes to make the NBL are Jaden Weldon and William ‘Davo’ Hickey, both of whom are currently plying their trade in NBL1.
Weldon is representing the Southern Sabres, while Hickey has been busy making highlights with the Melbourne Tigers.
Demos has played with both of them in the Indigenous national team, and says they have all the tools to become professionals.
“Those two boys, Davo and Jaden, both have the skillset to be NBL players,” Demos said.
“They’re both very skilled and smart basketballers. Jaden is quick and Davo is just as quick and athletic.
“They’ve got a long way to develop to become NBL players but they’ve definitely got the potential if they’re put in the right system and the right sort of team and with the right coach, they’ve got potential.
“At the end of the day it’s up to them but they’ve definitely got potential to make it as NBL players.”
Shout out to the Apunipima Australian Indigenous Basketball All Stars teams who balled out in the 2019 International Indigenous & Cultural Basketball Tournament.
The women claimed gold in double overtime while the men are coming home with silver ?? pic.twitter.com/a0nwxeLTD7
— NBL (@NBL) March 30, 2019
Demos hasn’t stopped playing basketball since retiring from the NBL, winning three Trans-Tasman titles (2016, 2017 and 2018) for the Apunipima AIB All Stars men’s national team.
The 30-year-old has family ties to Bindal country in North Queensland, and along with his new role as AIB President, also works as an Out of Home Care Caseworker with the Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation.
For someone who has been involved in basketball and the Indigenous community his entire life, Demos says he is enormously grateful to be given the opportunity to lead the AIB.
“It’s a massive a honour,” Demos said.
“Basketball has been a massive positive vehicle of change in my life. I’ve been lucky enough through sport to learn life skills that have helped me become a better person.
“Joel Khalu has done a great job of getting the program up and running to where it is today. We are doing international tours against other Indigenous cultures and countries.
“I can’t thank him enough for the opportunity to help this program grow.
“We have got a lot of plans coming up for 2019, so I’m very excited and grateful for the opportunity.”
Demos was a key driver of his former club, the Hawks, wearing Indigenous jerseys having an Indigenous game against Sydney in December.
The jerseys were such a hit that NBA star, and proud Indigenous man Patty Mills, was seen wearing it in the San Antonio Spurs locker room, something Demos says was a surreal feeling.
“It was awesome. It sort of blew me away how much support that it got from the NBL, from Illawarra but everyone around Australia and all over the world,” Demos said.
“We had Patty Mills and Joe Ingles supporting the whole cause.
“I think the NBL has done a great job, obviously they have announced that there’s going to be an Indigenous round next year.
“It’s just great to get the support of the NBL and the Hawks for letting us initiate the first Indigenous game.”