In case you needed more proof why the Bullets return to the NBL is about much more than wins and losses, have a look at Brisbane schoolboy Callum Dalton.
The rising star has been able to train with the club in recent months and this week he heads off to America for the NBA All-Star Weekend.
From a young age Dalton was earmarked as another Australian destined for big things and with the 16-year-old standing 6’8 already and having the skill and co-ordination of someone six inches shorter, it’s easy to see why.
After what was impossible 12 months ago, over the recent school holidays, Dalton dedicated himself to training with the Bullets and it’s an experience that has already proven invaluable in the development of the teenager.
Coming off the Under-17 World Championships last year and having now spent time with some NBL greats like Daniel Kickert, Anthony Petrie and Adam Gibson, along with learning under master coach Andrej Lemanis, it’s been quite the ride for Dalton.
It’s far from over and this week he heads to New Orleans to be part of the Basketball Without Borders Global Camp. There he, along with other invitees will attend the Rising Stars Challenge, All-Star Saturday night and the 66th NBA All-Star Game at Smoothie King Centre.
Dalton can’t wait for the experience where 67 other junior prospects from 32 countries will be there with him.
“I’m expecting it to be a fun and enjoyable experience learning from some of the best coaches in the world as well as playing against the best players in the world for my age group. Not only that but hearing from players who made it and know what it takes to get to that level,” Dalton said.
“The thing I’m looking forward to most is playing against the best and finding out how good I really am compared to the rest of the world as well as learning from so many experienced people. I’m also thrilled to be watching the All-Star Game as I’ve never been to a live NBA game before.”
As for the last couple of months, Dalton made sure he made the most of his experience of training with the Bullets and whether it was fellow big men Kickert, Tom Jervis or Mitch Young, or the likes of Torrey Craig, Shaun Bruce and the rest of the group, he took everything he could from all of them.
“Training with the Bullets was a huge advantage for me, it was crazy being able to play against the best in Australia and learn from some of the best coaches in the league,” he said.
“The players were so open to helping me learn and went out of their way to point out things improving my game a lot. The team welcomed me with open arms and I couldn’t have asked for anything more really.”
Linking up with the Bullets was made a bit easier for the Logan local given he already had spent time with Matt Kenyon and Tom Fullarton at the Centre of Excellence, where he also spent time with Brisbane and Australian coach Lemanis.
“I know Kenyon and Fullarton from the COE and junior basketball, it was cool being with them in a new environment as well as having some people I knew well to talk too when I first arrived but it didn’t take long before I got along with all the boys in the team,” Dalton said.
“Getting coached by Andrej was awesome because we had already trained together before so he knew what my game is and what I needed to work on. He’s one of the best in the world and to have him want me to be there was a huge confidence boost for me.”
It has been a remarkable 12 months already for Dalton but it’s only the beginning of his basketball journey.
Having decided to stick with basketball over pursuing an AFL career, he is yet to decide if he will attend a college in the US or not but he does know his sights are set on the NBA at some point.
“The last 12 months has definitely been a journey but it’s far from over. I’m keen to keep on going and see what happens and where I end up, it’s hard work but it’s by far worth it,” he said.
“I haven’t decided whether I’ll go play college ball yet but I’m definitely open to that opportunity. My goal in the long run is to play in the NBA but I’m lucky that we have a league like ours here in Australia to play in if that doesn’t work out early in my career.”
Dalton comes from good stocks as well, with his father Mark a former NBL player having spent time with the Canberra Cannons, Geelong Supercats, Sydney Kings, Brisbane Bullets and Wollongong Hawks between 1984 and 1999.
Winning a championship in Canberra in 1984 and being named to the Kings’ 25th Anniversary Team, his basketball acumen has been an invaluable resource for his son.
“Dad has been good support for me all through my basketball life helping me with my decisions, he’s been through all of this before so it’s awesome having him to talk too.”
With the forthcoming international exposure there’s no doubt the Bullets won’t be the only ones keeping a keen eye on Callum’s development over the coming years. Based on his current trajectory we’re anticipating big things.