Harding hopes Albury move becomes NBL stepping stone

A SEEMINGLY random Facebook friend request could become the catalyst for Surf Beach basketball prodigy Darcy Harding to achieve his dream of playing in the National Basketball League.

Harding last week completed the roster of South East Australia Basketball League (SEABL) champions Albury-Wodonga Bandits and said he hoped it would eventually lead to an NBL contract.

The teenager, who stands at 201 centimetres tall, will move to Albury in January after he recently completed a two-year scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport.

Speaking yesterday, Harding said he was excited about the upcoming move.

“Being a men’s league, things get physical, so this will be a good place to get used to that,” he said.

“A lot of young guys start in SEABL and use it as a stepping stone for the NBL and that’s definitely the goal for me.”

Bandits coach Brad Chalmers, who transformed the club from a financially crippled cellar dweller to championship winner in just one year, tracked the former Moruya player down through social media.

“He added me on Facebook at 12am one night and sent me a message to see if I was interested to play for the Bandits,” Harding said with a chuckle.

“I just left it for that night and spoke to my parents and some old coaches, and they all said it would be a good thing.

“He hadn’t seen me play before, so he just went through people who had seen me play.”

Chalmers originally intended to recruit Harding as a power forward, but after seeing him train, the coach decided he would play as a small forward.

That didn’t bother Harding one bit.

“Being six feet, seven (inches) tall, I can play anything from shooting guard to power forward,” he said.

“Having that versatility really helps.” 

The Bandits defied the odds by beating Dandenong 65-63 in last season’s SEABL grand final and Harding said his new team was confident of going back-to-back.

“Talking to the boys, they’re all hungry for it and I’m as keen as they are,” he said.

In what has been an exciting few weeks for Harding, he was also named in the NSW team to play at the under-20 national championships in Launceston from February 16-23.

Incredibly, he was the only non-metropolitan player selected.

“I feel like I’ve come a long way and it’s something I’m really proud of,” he said.

“There are jokes here and there about me being the only Country guy, but it’s all good and I give it back just as much – they’re all great guys.”

Harding was also picked for national championship duty this year, but an injury early in the tournament restricted his participation. 

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