AFL teams poaching Australia’s up and coming basketball talent is nothing new.
The trend can be traced back at least as far as former 36er, Dean Brogan, and attempts have persisted relentlessly targeting such names as Mark Worthington and Mitch Creek.
The unique blend of height, hand-eye co-ordination, athleticism and agility that basket-ballers possess makes them the proverbial wet dream of AFL scouts looking to offer these young men a quick dollar to cross over to the dark side.
The newest name, I am sure you have heard, is Hugh Greenwood – yet another player to throw in the hard wood for the field.
Greenwood won’t need much skills training to polish him into a serviceable AFL player; he was one of the nation’s best before receiving an AIS scholarship for basketball.
Had Greenwood not just signed a three year deal with the Perth Wildcats, this decision would be understandable, but the 23-year-old man, who made a life decision and commitment of three years, has walked out on the club after barely a month.
Hugh Greenwood has thrown in a burgeoning basketball career to pursue his long stated fall-back plan of AFL, and the question is “why?”
One interesting rumour, which did the rounds before the official announcement, is that Greenwood felt slighted that he didn’t make the Boomers team after the injury to Damian Martin.
Whilst unsubstantiated, it would certainly make sense. Lemanis had long spoken of Greenwood as a likely replacement for the Boomers, and then threw us the ultimate curve ball by taking Cam Gliddon – and not even giving him any minutes!
Of course this is still conjecture, but it is also possible Greenwood didn’t take the position gifted to him because he already knew that he was not going to be sticking with the sport – something the Wildcats did not know until today.
It is also speculated that the dollar signs of the AFL must have shone too bright for Greenwood, but there is no guarantee he was ever going to become a top flight AFL player in the adult game. He may not even make more than the average NBL player if he doesn’t become more than your average AFL one.
I believe the wages for NBL and AFL rookies are comparable in most cases.
The basketball community is already aghast and confused by what almost feels like a betrayal – when “one of ours” becomes “one of theirs” and crosses that line – leaving the Perth Wildcats in limbo and fans rightfully indignant. The AFL will continue to swoop in on our rising stars, picking them out of the pack when they appear most vulnerable; and until the NBL becomes more financially robust there is little that can be done to prevent it.
Editors Note: It is known to Aussie Hoopla that prior to heading to New Mexico University that Greenwood met with staff from the Collingwood Magpies to discuss whether he should continue with basketball or tempt an AFL career.
This appears to be something he has been considering doing ever since he left the AIS.
Collingwood were reportedly quite keen to sign him before he chose to head to college.