Since completing his Senior Season at the University of British Columbia with the Thunderbirds, Conor has had quite the journey and opportunities. We caught up with Conor and he shared a recap of the last couple of months of his career.
What’s up guys? It’s been a while since I have caught up I have moved to New Zealand for the summer to play professionally. Getting here was quite the journey as many cards fell in the right place in order for it to happen.
Mid-April I had the chance to represent Canada at the Commonwealth Games in Australia with a group of athletes from USports. Little did I know I would play in one of the most exciting basketball games and event of my life.
The Gold Coast was a beautiful venue and the love and care that Australia put into hosting the event was top-class. The preliminary rounds were hosted in Cairns and was an opportunity to try to qualify for the medal rounds on the Gold Coast (about a two-hour flight away). For a group of guys that had been together for a week in a new country learning a new system adapting to time change it was quite the process. By the way in the first game we had to play the host nation Australia which was a team made up of big time pros (two or more that played in the Olympics) and the rest that play in the NBL of Australia. For a bunch of 20-year olds we had our eyes opened to the next level as cognitively and physically they were light-years ahead of us.
Jumping forward a couple of days we end up in a deciding game against England to head to the Gold Coast. For us as a team, we focused on getting better each day because we were so inexperienced and youthful at that level, but we had to stay focused and respect the game - in other words worry about the little things. This may sound cliché to say, but a box-out at that level can mean the difference between winning or losing games as we could not rely on our athleticism to out jump and be bigger than people. As a young team we were humbled by this and accepted the challenge of getting back to basics and focus on all the little things that can buy us the extra possessions as most of us were competing on the biggest tournament of our lives. Breaking through and beating England for us in the qualifying round was a stepping stone for us and allowed us a shot at a medal which was the ultimate goal of the tournament.
Flying back to the Gold Coast our only worry was on New Zealand as we had played them in round robin play and they got the best of us, beating us in convincing fashion. For us to get another chance at them in the semi-final of the Commonwealth games was all that we wanted. Skipping forward to the fourth quarter of that game we find ourselves up 17 going into the fourth quarter. New Zealand did not come out of the gates as strong as we thought and they were playing a little bit flat and struggled to find a rhythm on either side of the ball. However, all of this changed in the fourth as they surged back from this deficit to take the lead with 3.5 seconds left on a free throw.
Our ball. On the side out-of-bounds play, nothing happened on the play we drew up, but in the scramble Mamadou Gueye (University of Alberta) banked in a three at the buzzer for to take the win and to qualify for the gold medal game against Australia.
Australia beat us handily in the final, however once again this was a big learning opportunity for all the graduating USports players hoping to take the next step. Thank you to the coaching staff of Kirby Shep, Kevin Hanson and David DeAveiro for the opportunity and memories that will last a lifetime!
From this experience at the Commonwealth Games, I was able to get interest from New Zealand in a league that runs from May through to July which presented a great opportunity to get myself acclimatized to the pro-game and pro-lifestyle. Along with this offer it allows me to open as many doors as possible in order to further my basketball career. This goes to show you that everyone is watching at all times. Ironically enough three of the players that were on the New Zealand team that we knocked off in the semi-final are on the team that I am currently playing for and they are some of my favorite dudes. Currently we are 12 and 4 and in third place in the league making a push to win a championship for the club!
I am still keeping all of my doors open for September and have gained interest from several European clubs and a couple opportunities elsewhere in the world as well as North America. I am excited to see what happens come August and September!
Ka Kite Anō
(See you soon)