MITCH Newton arrived at the Bandits with a well-defined goal – he wanted to make it in the NBL.
So after 13 games with the Albury-Wodonga outfit, is the dreadlocked stretch-four from New Zealand any closer to his goal?
The answer is a resounding yes.
Though he’s still get plenty of work to do before making it in Australia’s top league, Newton’s decision to step up to SEABL level has proven to be a wise one.
His performances over the first half of the season have been enough to pique the interest of the New Zealand Breakers, who are looking into him as a development player – the same pathway Darcy Harding took with the Sydney Kings last year.
For the Bandits, he’s averaging 14.6 points and six rebounds, shooting above 40 per cent from three along the way.
After taking a little time to find his feet – despite a memorable 16-point opening night performance against Mt Gambier where he shot a perfect 4-4 from beyond the arc – Newton said his decision to move to the Border had been a positive one for his burgeoning career.
“It’s been good, the first couple of games I didn’t really know where I fit on the team, but I’ve really found my spot since then,” he said.
“Guys like Deba (George) and Joel (Spear) have been finding me in my spots.
“First up I was struggling to finish around the rim, I was shooting at about 30 per cent, but I’ve been able to get it back up to around 50 per cent.
“Taking the step up to SEABL, which is recognised as a better league has been good.
“Being able to play 30 minutes a game at this level has been really helpful for my game.
“It’s more demanding with bigger guys, guarding bigger bigs.”
Recruiting Newton was a well-calculated risk for Bandits head coach Brad Chalmers, one he said had more than paid off.
“For us it was about getting a guy with (Mitch's) skillset, and give him an environment where he could play significant minutes and play well,” he said.
“So far, so good, I think we've ticked all those boxes.
“He's been a good fit for us in terms of on the court, he's been a good guy around the group, but we're really happy with how he's gone about it off the court as well.”
While there's no doubt Newton has made a significant impact in his short time on the Border, he does still have work to do.
Transitioning from a stretch-four to a small forward will enhance is prospects of cracking an NBL roster – and it's a transition he's capable of making.
His defence and shooting off the dribble will improve.
Bandits fans might have to commit Newton's games to memory if he does, since he'll be off making waves for the Breakers.