<
>

Now a leader, Mitch McCarron ready for next Boomers challenge

Mitch McCarron is looking forward to the challenge of being a leader in the Boomers locker room at the upcoming FIBA World Cup qualifiers in Melbourne, with the Adelaide 36ers guard one of the rare squad members to have experience with the senior men's national team.

Currently based in Queensland while playing NBL1 with the Northside Wizards, McCarron's only hesitation with taking the opportunity to play with the Boomers was getting the greenlight from the family.

"I think it is an honour to play," McCarron told ESPN. "Life is a little different for me now in terms of priorities because I have a son and a family. Sometimes for certain guys that probably means they can't put that aside but fortunately I'm in a position where I have a very supportive family and they want me to go. I'm excited to put on the green and gold again."

The Boomers will face China twice and Japan once at John Cain Arena, with Matthew Dellavedova the only player named in the squad that won bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

There will be six debutants for the Boomers, with McCarron looking forward to playing alongside some fresh faces under Brian Goorjian.

"I have to take on that kind of leadership role with this group a little bit more. There are some guys who are of a similar age or a little bit older that maybe have less experience when it comes to this format. We've got some new guys who are going to put the green and gold on for the first time.

"I'm sure Delly will probably lead the chat and Goorj has been there for so many years and he'll also be leading. It's just about sacrificing you're on personal game for the team and it doesn't really matter who ends up with what minutes or stats if you win which is what it's about."

The NBL heavy squad features a number of players who enjoyed breakout seasons with their respective squads, including Wani Swaka Lo Buluk, Keanu Pinder, Jack McVeigh and Will McDowell-White.

"It's cool, it's awesome to see people debut for their country, you can see that pride at the time. Right before the game we are sitting there and they might be a bit antsy, even the guys who have been there and played at major tournaments still get that way.

"I think the group is versatile, it's fairly defensive minded I suppose. Goorj might feel a different way but guys like Wani have earned a spot with the roles they played for their clubs rather than just the most offensively talented player at a position.

"FIBA basketball isn't about putting up 120 points a game, you have to be able to get stops. Credit to them for buying into their roles and they've got a Boomers singlet for the time being." While current NBA talent won't join the team, McCarron is anticipating big crowds at John Cain Arena, in what will be a homecoming of sorts for the Melbourne United championship star.

"It's going to be awesome. There will be a lot of hype coming off the Olympics and I think the Australian public will be excited. As much as they would like to see the NBA guys, it's not the right time at the moment and it falls back on local depth, and we've got a lot of it in this country. It's an opportunity for guys and also get us qualified so we can put the best team on the floor and try and win medals later."

McCarron has experience playing alongside Dellavedova and Thon Maker, with the trio a part of the 2019 World Cup qualifying group that was caught up in the wild brawl against the Philippines.

"The Philippines game is remembered for something not so great, but that team was actually balling. We were playing really, really well, (head coach) Andrej Lemanis was stoked. There was really good vibes and I'm sure Delly and Thon really remember that trip. Hopefully they will bring all their experience and energy and hopefully get over the line in these games."

At club land, the 36ers have been making noise in free agency season, with the team looking to bounce back from a disappointing NBL22 campaign that saw them finish seventh with a 10-18 record.

"It was a bit of a disappointing year. I think rebuilding for next year, the roster is going to look different as many will across the league. This offseason for me has been working more one on one stuff and scoring and just making sure I take my opportunities when they come. We're going to have some different options this year I think when it comes to scoring the ball but it's my job to shoot better and play better and hopefully keep building."

While there has been no official announcement yet, the 36ers are expected to be in the box seat for some big name import signings, with McCarron enthused by the early movement in the offseason.

"It's been (head coach) C.J. (Bruton) driving the recruiting along with (CEO) Nic Barbato and Grant Kelly as the owner. We had some discussions before we left about what they want. Before I signed with Adelaide the main message from Grant was that he wants a championship again.

"The opportunity has come to sign a few guys and we're hoping that they can lock in and come to us for the next season because we want that, the fans want that and we're excited to put together a competitive team that can play fast, put up some points and get some stops. It's cool being a part of that recruiting process, obviously C.J. does a good job communicating with Daniel Johnson, Sunday Dech, myself, just talking about different options."

BOOMERS SQUAD:
Matthew Dellavedova (Melbourne United)
Mitch McCarron (Adelaide 36ers)
Will McDowell-White (NZ Breakers)
Sam McDaniel (Tasmania JackJumpers)
Wani Swaka Lo Buluk (Illawarra Hawks)
Todd Blanchfield (Perth Wildcats)
Clint Steindl (Tasmania JackJumpers)
Jack White (Melbourne United)
Jack McVeigh (Tasmania JackJumpers)
Keanu Pinder (Cairns Taipans)
Thon Maker (G League)
Sam Froling (Illawarra Hawks)