Playing in the NBL1 competition in the off-season, Adelaide 36ers development player Nick Marshall has developed in leaps and bounds. Suiting up for the Mount Gambier Pioneers, the experience of playing with hardened bodies has helped the rising star ahead of NBL23.
Speaking to The Inner Sanctum exclusively ahead of the Adelaide 36ers’ start to NBL23, Marshall speaks about the NBL1 South competition and how it is the best form of preparation for developing players.
“Playing at the NBL1 was really fun, the North and the South are the two best leagues I think and so they are like the closest you can get to playing NBL with just the bodies, the size of players and the talent level,” Marshall explained.
“Obviously the [skill] level is different but you can still transfer it across basically and it helped me prepare and to grow my game.
Marshall thrived in the NBL1 South environment averaging 16.62 points, 2.08 assists and six rebounds. He also shot 45.98 per cent from the field this season.
The best thing about the NBL1 competitions is the blend of young talent with experienced NBL players. Marshall says this has served him well coming into the final year as a development player.
“I can work on different areas like shooting, defence and stuff like that so there’s games that I get to guard Dejan Vasiljevic from Sydney or Sam McDaniel from the JackJumpers like there’s guys like that pretty much every week so it’s been good to kind of go against them.”
Ahead of his second year on the Sixers’ roster, Marshall is still settling into the team as a development player before he steps up to the full rostered position next season. He speaks about his role in the defence for Adelaide with big recruits Robert Franks, Craig Randall II and Antonius Cleveland set to dominate the offence.
“This year it’s just [about] getting better defensively and then [I’ll] sort of let the offence take care of itself,” he said.
“[As] a new rostered player coming through, I guess my role to play is kind of to be defensive and take looks where I can and stick to my game.
“We have imports like Robo (Franks) and AC (Cleveland) who are both re-signed for next year so they will be our main scoring guys, so this year I’ll continue to learn from those guys and keep getting better.”
Playing alongside Franks and Cleveland will also be a great experience for Marshall as he grows in the game.
Cleveland was the defensive player of the year last season averaging 14.14 points, 6.36 rebounds, 2.32 assists and a block a game for the Illawarra Hawks, while Franks averaged 18.19 points, 8.93 rebounds and 1.59 assists.Embed from Getty Images
The NBL x NBA tour again took the Adelaide 36ers to the United States to play against the Phoenix Suns and Oklahoma City Thunder, where they met former 36er Josh Giddey.
Marshall was part of the contingent that played Overtime Elite at The PHHACILTY in Phoenix where he put on his best performance of the tour. He stunned NBA scouts with his contributions in this game, putting up a game-high 23 points and 10 rebounds.
This shows how much he has improved in the off-season and how much potential he has to be realised.
With CJ Bruton taking the reins as the 36ers’ head coach last season, he has been a key figure in Marshall’s growth. When speaking about Bruton, Marshall cannot speak highly of his influence and knowledge as a coach.
“I’ve got a really good relationship with CJ, he’s always giving me pointers here and there and because he played in the NBL and was a really good player so [I’m] learning things that he sees,” he said.
“I can put that into my games and help me grow I guess as a player and continue to learn, he’s always giving me pointers so I try and just listen and put it all together.”
He speaks about receiving the contract extension for this season and how he felt impressing his new coach in the process.
“It felt really good [to receive that two year contract extension], it was a dream come true,” Marshall said.
“Being a DP (development player) this year, I’m still continuing to learn and grow as a player, [I’ll continue to] keep [getting] better then next year will be ready to come into that full roster spot and then show what I’ve got.
“[For me] this year, CJ’s been happy with me and I can get in [there] with every opportunity I get and just show what I got.”
Taking on the captaincy in NBL22, Australian Boomer Mitch McCarron has been a fantastic recruit on the Sixers’ road back to the finals. Playing 198 games in the league, Marshall speaks about what he’s learned from the veteran.
“He’s been really good [for me], obviously he’s been a Boomer and played for Australia and that’s one thing that’s a goal of mine,” Marshall said.
“[For him] to be able to do that and represent the country and seeing how he is as a pro everyday and the way he goes about his business like coming into training everyday and staying at a high level and being as good as what he is.”Embed from Getty Images
Joining McCarron in the leadership group are former captain Daniel Johnson and Sunday Dech as well as new recruit Robert Franks.
Dech has become another key figure in helping Marshall to adjust to the NBL.
“Sunday’s been really good, having Sunday from last year as well, he’s obviously a great defender and he’s a great defender amongst the NBL,” he said.
“I’ve learned a lot from him just positioning-wise, how to use your body against bigger guys and sort of tricks here and there.”
Dech has played 117 games in the NBL at the 36ers and Illawarra Hawks with his breakout season coming last season. He averaged 12.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists which are career-best statistics for Dech.
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