Mitch Newton, by his own admission, was a late bloomer in elite basketball but that does not mean he’s running late in the high-octane lanes of contention.
Oh no, it simply means Newton is only just getting started while everyone else has been charging full steam ahead.
“I did start playing when I was like 15 but even then, I was pretty average,” says the 22-year-old from Gore as the Taylor Corporation Hawks prepare to tip off against defending champions Cigna Saints in their round five Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) match at the TSB Bank Arena in Wellington in a 3pm tip off tomorrow.
“I did try but I just didn’t make the Southland under-17s and they had a B team and I just didn’t make it either, so I wasn’t that good.”
But the genes kicked in in 2012 for the year 12 pupil who had enjoyed a growth spurt so “I grew into my body a bit more, I guess”.
It’s that sort of patience, on the platform of hard work, that has slowly but surely hardened his template in the NBL.
The Saints and Hawks are reloading at the same venue after the Saints won 93-85 a fortnight ago, bearing in mind it’s hard enough to beat the perennial champions anywhere.
However, the hosts didn’t have it easy in the previous encounter, having to reel in the Hawks 28-15 in the final quarter. They found the Hawks’ latest import signing, power forward Jamie Skeen, a handful as he racked up 29 points.
Wellington have bullied the Hawks as of late, winning the past eight games and proudly wearing the badge of honour in not having conceded a match on home turf since 2011.
But Newton hastens to add playing them at TSB Arena again need not be a bad thing as the Hawks look for a rash of games at the back end of the season at the Pettigrew-Green Arena, Taradale.