Crocs centre Luke Nevill helps team quickly climb NBL ladder
HE didn't quite land an NBA contract, but Townsville Crocodiles centre Luke Nevill certainly took a lot out of the time he spent with the Indiana Pacers in the American summer.
What 2.18m wouldn't relish the chance to line up against one of the best centres in the best league, Roy Hibbert, at training hit-outs?
So rather than hunch his shoulders at missing out on his dream for a second time (Nevill was cut from the Cleveland Cavaliers after playing four pre-season games with them in the 2009 US summer), the 26-year-old has helped pull the Crocodiles out of a massive form slump.
Nevill joined the Crocs in time for their round nine clash against the Adelaide 36ers, and his massive presence was felt immediately.
Going into that game, Townsville was reeling with an appalling 0-10 record.
In the five games Nevill has been there, his side has won all of them, jumping from last to sixth on the ladder.
"One thing we were lacking was a tall presence in the middle of the court," said Nevill, who averaged 9.5 points and almost five rebounds for the Perth Wildcats in the 2011/12 season.
He has six rebounds this season, something which has delighted Crocs coach Paul Woolpert.
Woolpert audaciously recruited Nevill at the 11th hour, after missing his dream Pacers contract, for this very reason.
With an average of 16 points per game to go with that, the sixth highest in the league, and with star American import and teammate Gary Ervin second on this list (17.3), the Crocs have found their offensive bite.
"I've tried to get the ball to my outside men as cleanly as possible so they have time to make their shots," Nevill said.
"They haven't hesitated with the ball before taking those three-point shots recently which has really helped us."
Nevill benefited immensely from the two pre-season games he had with Indiana.
"It's a good situation when you get the opportunity to line up against Roy Hibbert at training," he said.
"Before those games, we had three weeks where we played a lot of five-on-five games among the squad, so I got the chance to see what makes the top players successful."
Nevill said this Friday night's game against the two-time reigning champions and table-topping New Zealand Breakers will give a true indication of just how good his side is travelling.
"They're an elite team, but we've got a lot of guys who are high on confidence," he said.
"(Breakers talls) Will Hudson and Alex Pledger are great players."