Jayden Hodgson and Harry Froling have both made the progression from Basketball Australia’s Centre of Excellence (CoE) into the NBL as they continue their journey to become professional basketballers.
At 18 years of age, Hodgson was recently named as a development player for the Sydney Kings while 17-year old Froling was listed on the Townsville Crocodiles roster at the start of the NBL season.
Hailing from Townsville made the decision to sign with the Crocs easier for Froling as all his family and friends are close. However, the choice was left very late as it was not a certainty that Townsville would field a side for the season.
“I had interests from three or four other clubs with development player options,” said Froling. “Townsville were rebuilding the club and were in question whether they would participate in this season for a while but I went to them and said I want to play NBL, would you guys be interested.”
That determination paid off and the forward soon found himself with the Crocs in the NBL pre-season tournament.
“The Blitz was really fun. Greg Vanderjagt [Townsville assistant coach] helped me out a lot and got me on board with the offence. It’s a great young group and I get along with them really well.”
For Hodgson, a relationship with Kings coach Damian Cotter and Head of Basketball Operations Tim Hudson helped him sign up with Sydney this season although an injury to import Josh Childress sped up the process.
“I got a call from Tim who asked when I could get down there,” said Hodgson.
“I originally signed a development player role after I was finished at the CoE but when Childress got injured, they wanted to get me involved straight away instead of signing an import. The biggest issue was school but we got that sorted and within 48 hours I was with them.”
Hodgson is making the most of training and traveling with the team, citing Jason Cadee as a player who he loves to match up against and study as well as learning under experienced players like Rhys Carter and Steven Markovic.
However, there are still aspects of the NBL that he is adapting to.
“Everything you do at the CoE, you do with mates and it’s like a family. Here, the biggest shock I had was you train and play with your team but then you go off and do your own thing.
“When you got back from a road trip with the CoE you would walk out together and say your goodbyes but with the Kings they got their bags and left straight away. It’s a bit different.”
Froling has settled nicely into the young Crocs team, reuniting with Mitch Norton who he played alongside as a junior but is finding training sessions a lot more physical.
“The skill level is similar to the CoE which is such a high standard but there are still a lot less mistakes and the physicality is definitely higher.”
That time spent at the CoE is deemed invaluable by both players after Froling spent two years developing his game at the institution while Hodgson was inducted in late 2014.
“The access to facilities and going against the best in Australia was great,” said Froling. “The state programs do their best they can but the pool of talent is nowhere near as great as it is in the CoE.”
“It was the best place for me, playing against the best kids in Australia day in and day out,” Hodgson added.
“Not only on the basketball side of things but with my body thanks to nutrition and work in the weight room. The quality of coaching in Adam Caporn, Markus Klusemann and Brad Davidson is world-class. It was a great place to learn.”
With the offers sure to fly in from all over the world soon, Hodgson and Froling must think carefully of their next step as they look to fulfil their long-term goals.
Hodgson is set to visit USA colleges and universities and although he is not sure whether he wants to play overseas yet, the guard is ensuring all options are available.
Froling is looking to head to college next year but will play a season in the Queensland Basketball League or South East Australian Basketball League before then.
“Hopefully I can return and go pro and then play for the Boomers one day.”