Written by Ben Mallis for NBL.com.au
Ryan Broekhoff can vividly recall the first time he saw the name Joe Ingles.
“I remember Joe from his first season in the NBL,” Broekhoff said of the Utah Jazz swingman.
“When he played with the South Dragons, I went to their first game in 2006. That was my first memory of Joe.”
Twelve years have passed since Broekhoff’s first interaction with Ingles, and now, after similar journeys, the pair are inseparably linked in the NBA. Both are graduates of detailed playing careers in Europe, and importantly for the Australian basketball community, both are leading spokespeople for the game locally.
The NBL is never too far removed from Broekhoff’s mind. He admits to keeping a keen eye on Andrew Bogut as he plays for the Sydney Kings. He is impressed with the growing standard of the league. And now, as an NBA rookie with the Dallas Mavericks, Broekhoff has already thought about becoming a rookie all over again.
Broekhoff spoke with NBL.com.au in Dallas this month and admitted a return to the NBL is something that has crossed his mind.
“It’s something that I have definitely thought about,” Broekhoff said. “Hopefully I still have some more years over here in the NBA before thinking about that stuff.
“But to play at home in front of friends and family, it’s been such a long time since I had that opportunity, so it would be something pretty special to finish up down there in Australia.”
While the NBL wasn’t flourishing like it is now when Broekhoff rose through the junior ranks, the league was still one option the Frankston native considered in his youth. Ultimately, Broekhoff knew that he needed more development before joining a professional basketball league and instead left for Valparaiso University in Indiana.
“I knew I wasn’t physically ready to go into a professional league,” Broekhoff said, of this teenage thought process. “I was offered development spots on NBL rosters, but I thought I physically wasn’t ready.
“I needed more time to grow and mature. Being a late developer, I just needed more time and the college path always made the most sense.”
Broekhoff spent four years playing with Valparaiso, leading the school into the 2013 NCAA Tournament, before signing his first professional contract with Beşiktaş in August of 2013.
A two-year stint with the Turkish powerhouse was followed with three seasons in Russia with Lokomotiv Kuban. The Australian shot an outstanding 50% from three-point range during his last season Lokomotiv Kuban and parlayed these talents into a maiden NBA contact in July.
Broekhoff hopes to remain in the NBA for the immediately future, but NBL fans can expect to see him back home in August. With Team USA heading to Melbourne, Broekhoff has been vocal in his commitment to the Australian Boomers program and cannot wait to take the floor at Marvel Stadium next year.
“Basketball in Australia is so popular now and the NBA is so popular, especially with the amount of Australian’s doing well over here. I think it’s the perfect time to bring the Team USA out.
“From a marketing perspective, it is the perfect time and I’m sure tickets have gone quickly. It’s going to be a great spectacle for Melbourne and Australian basketball.”
Broekhoff’s global career is one of the key reasons for the sport’s growth. Hopefully his journey will come full circle, and a jaunt in the NBL will punctuate the basketball career of Rowdy from Frankston.