Photo: NBL1 Instagram, Graphic Design: Will Cuckson

Currently in his second season in the league, going from a development player to an extended roster player, Lachie Barker is appreciating the opportunities he’s been given in NBL23.

Speaking to The Inner Sanctum, Barker spoke about how he first got involved in basketball and who influenced him.

“I started when I was about eight or nine. I’m a country kid from Tassie, so I was growing up down there. One of my friends said he was going to play basketball and if I would like to go join and try it,” Barker said.

“I thought, why not, I’ll give it a go. It all started from there and quite enjoyed it. I eventually fell in love with it and wanted to do it for a living.”

Playing with the Frankston Blues in the NBL1, Barker helped the Blues make the NBL1 national finals. The 26-year-old spoke about the opportunities of playing with Frankston.

“It’s awesome, especially with a club like Frankston, they look after you really well. They can be great resources, opportunities, and all the coaching staff, general manager and everything there has been really good,” he said.

“I guess [they’ve had] a big part helping me where I’ve got today. It’s been really good.

“We didn’t have the season we wanted. We had a pretty good season but didn’t finish where we would have liked to.

“We were lucky enough to get the wildcard and we’re just grateful that we had the opportunity to play at the national finals. [We just] wanted to give it a red hot crack and see how far we could get.

“It has a lot to do with my teammates and coaching staff who put me in those positions.”

In the 2021/22 NBL season, Barker got the opportunity to play with the South East Melbourne Phoenix as a development player and is currently an extended-roster player with Melbourne United. Barker shared how special it was to be recognised for the hard work he has put in and what he’s learnt about himself that’s gotten to where he is today.

“It was great. I was very grateful for the opportunity [the] Phoenix gave me. I started off training there and then a few people went down so I was signed as an injury replacement.”

“As it all works out, we had a lot of injuries and because of COVID last year as well, I was able to play a lot in some games. It was great for the opportunity and I tried to put my best foot forward and I just wanted to keep working and that was my aim, to get a roster spot and stay in the league.”

“Confidence goes a long way. You might be working out and you know you can do it, but you need to have the confidence and belief in yourself and all the hard work you’ve put in that you can translate that into games and know all the coaches and other players trust that you can do the job.”

Earlier this season Barker was concussed in a game in Perth against the Perth Wildcats after Jesse Wagstaff went to set a screen on the guard and accidentally made contact with his head.

Barker spoke about the challenges he faced being out and not playing, how he motivated himself during the recovery stage, and the strategies he used to get through it.

“That was my first concussion, hopefully, that’s my first and last one. It was very, very challenging,” he said.

“The first few days were pretty rough. Luckily for me, I was pretty fortunate that I didn’t really have too many lasting symptoms and I could recover in a couple of weeks, which was good.

“It was very tough not playing because we had a fair few games in that period and it was hard to sit at home and watch your team play, knowing you couldn’t be out there to help.

“I was being really diligent on my rehab staff. The first few days were trying to get the symptoms down, so that meant not doing much. Even though I’m a pretty active person and hate not doing anything, if that’s what it took to get my symptoms down quicker, then that’s what I had to do.

“It was basically doing whatever I could to get right as quickly as I could so I could be back out there.”

Currently being coached by Dean Vickerman, Barker shared what he has learnt during his time at United.

“Dean’s great. He’s really good at communicating and telling you what your role is, what you need to do, what you need to improve on, and what you’re doing good,” he said.

“At Melbourne United, they’re a heavily defensive, focused team which is great and that’s one of the biggest aspects I’m really trying to work on.

“Everyone’s a lot bigger and stronger in the NBL, fighting through screens and standing in front of people, that sort of thing.

“Defensively, trying to knuckle down and helping with little pointers, whether it’s positioning and that sort of thing on defence has been really beneficial.”

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Since playing at the professional level, Barker explained the reasons he enjoys playing in a team sport and environment and the strategies he uses if he’s having a tough game.

“It’s the camaraderie and enjoying other people doing well. You know you can see growth in people and the friendships that you make along the way, which I quite enjoy,” he said.

“You’ve just got to try and stay positive. Yes, you need to point out what’s not going right so you can fix it, but then you need to be positive and find a solution, being solution based and positive and trying to pick each other up.

“For example, you might be missing your shots, you might be like ‘next one’s going in’. You know to keep being confident and being aggressive sort of thing.

“Just being positive and staying with it.”

Barker discussed what the meaning of basketball and what it means to play the sport and the role models he looks up to.

“It means a lot. I’ve been playing it for more than half my life and it’s been a really big part of it, and that’s how I’ve made a lot of great friendships. I’ve been to a lot of different states, and a little bit around the world. It means a lot and it’s been a big part of my life and really enjoy it.”

“From a kid starting to watch NBL, a big one was actually Chris Goulding, being one that I like to watch and really sort of in-modelled my game but tried to do some things he sort of does. He was one that I defiantly looked up to as a kid and try and be like one day.”

Lastly, Barker shared his words of wisdom to any young basketballers coming through the ranks and wanting to improve their game.

“Do your work, put your hours in, be dedicated, be diligent, and then it will work out. If you grind hard and do all the work, then good things will happen.”

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