Boy Mitch 'can be a Croc great'

Boy Mitch 'can be a Croc great'

Mitch Norton's selection to represent Australia at the World U17 basketball championships has earned him more than just a green and gold singlet, writes Antony Stewart in The Townsville Bulletin.

Crocodiles NBL coach Trevor Gleeson believes it has also put the point guard on the path to becoming one of the best players Townsville has ever produced.

It's a fair wrap, but then again Norton is a pretty fair player.

The 17-year-old was last week named in Australia's 12-man squad to travel to the world titles in Hamburg, Germany in early July. He was the only Queenslander chosen.

It has made him a man in demand, with not only the Crocodiles hoping he will control the floor at The Swamp one day, but US colleges also knocking.

“I have been working for it for a few years, so it's pretty rewarding,” Norton said when he was told of his selection following the final training camp last week.

“All the other boys were like 'there's no way you can miss out, you've worked hard', but there's always that feeling that you might not make it, so it's great, I love it.”

Norton has been a member of the Crocs development program, Sharp Start, for four years and credits recently departed assistant coach Rohan Short for much of his progress.

A year ago, the Year 12 Pimlico High School student obviously had talent but was more of a fringe squad player for the national team than a definite selection.

By last month, there was simply no way Aussie selectors could look past 183cm Norton.

Norton dominated the National U18 Titles, averaging 19.6 points to lead the tournament, plus five assists (third) and five rebounds per game.

“I don't think I would be where I am today without the effort he (Short) put in,” Norton said.

“I would work out with him three times a week and he wouldn't move on until we got it downpat perfect, so he helped me out a lot.”

Gleeson said Norton's dedication and improvement had put him on the path to surpass the achievements of the top players produced in the region.

That includes Crocodiles Kelvin Robertson and brothers Michael and Chris Cedar.

“He might be one of the best kids coming out of Townsville, and that's saying a lot,” said Gleeson, who is heading into his fifth season in charge of the Crocs.

“I don’t want to put pressure on the kid, but I think he has the potential to be one of the best and that's (including) Kelvin, Mick and Chris and whoever came before my time.”

Photos courtesy of Townsville Bulletin/Kangaroo Photos