AUSTIN (KXAN) — In 2017, St. Edward’s University head men’s basketball coach Andre Cook and assistant Taylor Land took a trip to Australia to scout some of the basketball talents down under. They went all over the country searching for potential Hilltoppers.
The first player they came across was Corey Shervill of Perth who came to south Austin and had immense success over his time with St. Edward’s. Now nearly six years later, the connection between Australia and Austin is still strong.
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“Definitely, I feel like it’s more of a pass-first mentality,” said St. Edward’s Jaylen Gordon about a commonality between the playing style of Australians. “Looking for the best shot, for sure.”
Gordon, a junior forward for the Hilltoppers, is a native of Melbourne, Australia. About eight hours west of Melbourne is Adelaide, home of two other St. Edward’s players.
Uche and Uzoma Dibiamaka both came to the states and played college basketball at different colleges in Texas before uniting at St. Edward’s.
“We’re almost like the same person,” joked Uche Dibiamaka about the relationship with his brother Uzoma. “We have the same personality more or less. So we get along, we don’t fight often.”
The Dibiamakas and Gordon are joined by Perth native Blake Nielsen. Blake’s father is Matt Nielsen, a current assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs and former Olympian for Australia.
“It’s really cool to know that we’re in the same situation away from home,” Nielsen said about being in the same boat as his Australian teammates. “You want to be winning if you’re away from home. Not quite the same if you’re sacrificing all of that for lots of losing.”
“We kind of have our little niche with that country,” Cook said. “Probably, it’s time to go back over there again.”
St. Edward’s is 15-6 this season with about a month left in the regular season. They sit in second in the East Division of the Lone Star Conference.