FOR Lamar Mallory, being good at basketball is one thing.
But being a good person?
Far more important.
The Albury-Wodonga Bandits import has been an athletic revelation for the Border club this season, his explosive dunks electrifying the home crowds in what has been an otherwise largely disappointing season.
Averaging 16.3 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, Mallory has posted solid numbers despite a raw post game and occasional struggles at the defensive end in his first foray into the world of semi-professional basketball.
But for the quietly-spoken Mallory, self-improvement off the court is far more critical than on it.
“I think I need to work on everything,” Mallory said.
“You never can be complacent, I want to work on all my strengths and weaknesses, no matter what they are.
“I like striving to be better; of course it’s hard work but I like to strive to be a better human being, period.
“It’s just not about basketball, it’s about life and family and the people I’m around.
“Family means so much to me, my mum, my two sisters, my aunties, uncles and cousins all support me and that’s what it’s all about.”
Don’t be fooled into thinking there’s complacency though; Mallory has some lofty goals when it comes to his basketball career.
“I want to go to the NBA, I’ll be honest with you,” Mallory said.
“If not the NBA then one of the top leagues, the NBL here, just because that’s top-notch, that’s where the best players are playing.
“That’s where I want to be; not just to be where basketball takes me, I want to compete against the best and that’s what it is.”
The Bandits finish their SEABL campaign tomorrow night on the road against the Brisbane Spartans and a win would not only break a four-game losing streak but also lift the Bandits from second-last to fifth in the East conference.
Setting aside his NBA aspirations, Mallory already has his sights set on a sophomore SEABL season on the Border, assuming the team will have him back.
“I’d love to come back, it’s a great league,” Mallory said.
“Great competition, great people here and it’s a great environment so I’d absolutely love to be back here next year.
“We’ve talked about it, what type of system we’d have and I just hope I’m a part of that.
“It feels like a big family here, the kids here have been great, they all want to come out and shake your hand and I try to tell them to stay in school because that’s what’s going to get you to where you want to be.
“It’s definitely an experience, my first time overseas, the roads and the cars … everything is backwards but it’s beautiful here, so pretty.
“The league has been a lot more physical than I expected — I wasn’t shocked but at the same time it’s exciting.
“You have to rise to the occasion; you have to step up when there’s a guy going at me, so it’s definitely going to make me a better player.”