Rising basketball talent Brayden Inger has two reasons to celebrate today.
He finishes his 14-day managed isolation and quarantine after returning home to Auckland from Western Australia and he has confirmed he will make his debut in the Sal‘s New Zealand National Basketball League for the SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks in 2021.
Inger is coming off two seasons playing for the Geraldton Buccaneers in the NBL1 West League where he has suited up alongside Sharks’ legend James Paringatai, helping the club to its first ever league title in 2019.
As with most competitions in 2020, including the New Zealand NBL, his 2020 season was heavily impacted by COVID with the West League being postponed and then shortened, with Inger averaging 14 points, on 44% shooting from the field to go with 6 rebounds and 3 assists per game.
The 6 foot 8 guard is delighted to be home and couldn’t be happier to make Invercargill his new basketball home.
“With all that’s going on, coming home made sense and for any young guy who has the goal of cracking the Australian NBL, playing for Bevo (Sharks’ Head Coach Rob Beveridge) and the Sharks ticked all the boxes,” he said.
After playing his High School basketball for Rangitoto College, Inger was signed to play for US Division 1 College Mount St. Mary’s before a late change in coaching staff saw the State-side opportunity close and a new one open up in Western Australia.
“It turned out to be one of the best moves I could have done. I’m really glad with the way it worked out. Playing NBL1 is a great development path for young Kiwis who don’t go the college route and now I’m ready to come back to a higher level of competition back home to what will be a perfect platform to get better as a player,” Inger said.
Inger was a man in demand with multiple New Zealand landing spots on offer, meaning Sharks’ coach Rob Beveridge is delighted to secure his services for next year.
“I am super excited to have Brayden join us at the Southland Sharks. I received outstanding feedback from my coaching colleagues over in the WA State League where he played for the past 2 years and they couldn’t recommend him highly enough.”
“Brayden is a high character person who I believe has the potential to be a full time professional player and a future Tall Black. At 6’8 Brayden can play multiple positions where he can handle the ball, shoot the 3, put the ball to the floor and get to the rim. He is also a very long solid defender who can rebound and get in the lanes and is going to fit perfectly into our style of game,” Beveridge said.
And after 14 days in quarantine, Inger is itching to get a basketball back in his hands.
“It hasn’t been too bad. I’ve been playing a lot of (NBA) 2K. I got lucky with a five-star hotel so the food has been pretty good but I’ve already started searching for a court that’s open on New Year’s Eve so I can get my legs moving,” Inger said.
Inger becomes the fifth Sharks’ player to be announced for 2021 along with Dom Kelman-Poto, Alonzo Burton, Toby Gillooly and Alex Pledger.
The 2021 Sal’s NBL tips off on April 24 with the Sharks opening their season on the road in Nelson on Monday 26 April before its first home game at ILT Stadium Southland against the Taranaki Mountainairs on Thursday 29 April at 7:30pm.
Images via Geraldton Buccaneers