A once in a lifetime kid.
That is what former NBL big man and Townsville Heat under-18 state championship winning coach Shane Froling labelled Rory Hawke after he led the North Queensland side to an undefeated title on the Gold Coast.
Hawke, who was this week announced as one of the newest athletes to join the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence, averaged 29 points per game as the Heat rolled through the tournament without a loss and completed the week with a 100-77 demolition of the Gold Coast Waves in the grand final.
The athletic guard/forward recorded 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the 23-point win but was supported by teammates Kaleb Mitchehill (26 points) and big duo Luca Yates (15 points and 19 rebounds) and Marshall Wilson (18 points and 15 rebounds) in the victory.
The moment of the game might not have even been a basketball play as the ball went out of bounds late in the final quarter and the referees called Townsville ball.
But in a show of great sportsmanship, Hawke told the referees he hit the ball out of bounds and the call was changed.
That spirit is what makes this player and team special, according to Froling.
“Rory Hawke is a once in a lifetime kid and a moment like that is what separates him from others,” Froling said.
“But on court, his athletic ability, ability to finish, read the path of ball, his ability to find people, get around people is amazing.
“The kid is a machine, he’s going down to the Centre of Excellence and will go on to have a long and great career, not only because of his talent but just because the type of kid he is.
“It’s a privilege to coach kids like that.
“And this whole group is like that. You know you have a special group, when they call each other over the holidays to work on things outside of our actual training times.
“Just the integrity of the group, the way they back each other is incredible.”
Froling also praised the efforts of Mitchehill and the dominance of Yates and Wilson on the boards as the pair grabbed 34 rebounds, including 18 offensive between them.
“Yates and Marshall were amazing, the two kids have grown immensely,” he said.
“Marshall is one of those glue guys in the team, he won’t give you a million points but he’ll dive on loose balls, he’ll pat his teammates on the back, he’s a bit of a joker and if you recorded effort as a stat, he’d kill it.
“Luca is a changed player compared to a few years ago and he has a very long future and career ahead of him and could play at the top level.”
The state title completes not only an undefeated tournament for the Heat but an undefeated season of 19 games, which Froling called an “awesome achievement”.
Article credit to Townsville Bulletin, authored by Brayden Heslehurst