THE West Coast Classic is exciting for the opportunities it’s providing to young players and Noah Hinkley is one of those with the Goldfields Giants as the 17-year-old continues to do the Aboriginal community in Kalgoorlie proud.
Kalgoorlie has a strong history of producing some fine athletes and while many of those have been Australian Rules footballers like Eddie Betts or Dean Kemp, there’s no reason basketballers can’t come from the gold mining town.
Already there is Noah Hinkley who is making his mark with the local Goldfields Giants in the West Coast Classic as he continues to impress despite only being 17 years of age and having only decided to focus on basketball this year rather than football.
It’s remarkable to think that Hinkley had never played a game of organised basketball up until this West Coast Classic because already he is more than holding his own and showing that he has an enormously bright future in the game.
That was never more evident than in his performance last Saturday night with the Giants putting in a tremendous team performance at home to the Joondalup Wolves to win 80-71.
Hinkley was at the forefront of it too producing eight points, five rebounds, a steal and a blocked shot while shotting 3/6 from the floor and 2/2 from the foul line in the best performance of his young career to date.
The Giants have been a powerhouse in the State Basketball League (SBL) since its inception in 1989 and in its place for 2020 thanks to COVID-19 is the West Coast Classic, and it’s opened an opportunity for the 17-year-old that he is grabbing with both hands.
Hinkley is showing exciting signs on the basketball court for the Giants, but he could easily be a football star too having kicked 78 goals in the colts playing for Mines Rovers last year.
But basketball is where he wanted to focus with his coach Wayne Creek, a Goldfields legend who won a championship in 2007 and is the SBL’s all-time shot blocking leader, more than willing to throw him in the deep end.
Making Hinkley’s story more remarkable, is this is his first year playing organised basketball. He clearly is a natural and that included him scoring six points in an impressive performance against Perth Wildcats player Luke Travers on the road in Cockburn.
Creek couldn’t be more excited to see what the future holds for Hinkley and to be giving him these opportunities in the West Coast Classic.
“He is a great kid and hasn’t played structured basketball before this year, but he takes everything on board really well,” Creek said.
“He’s been learning our structures offensively and defensively, and he is learning all the time and just taking it all in his stride.
“What he does is that he is comfortable in the role we are asking him to play and he just does everything very well that we want him to do, and it’s showing with what he is producing on the court.”
Kalgoorlie has a strong Indigenous population so for someone like Hinkley to be able to set the scene that basketball has a real pathway for that community is nothing to be sneezed at either.
And there are no greater supporters of Hinkley’s at home games in Kalgoorlie than his family. They recently did suffer a tragedy with the passing of his aunty and Creek was more than willing to give him all the time he needed to mourn.
But Hinkley was right to go that weekend, dedicated the game to his beloved aunty and the Giants came out and had an impressive win in front of almost 1000 people on their home court.
This is more than being just about basketball and Creek sees what a role model for his mob that Hinkley is already becoming – and that’s from a kid who hasn’t even finished school yet.
“With me and basketball, I don’t care what background in life you have, if you have the talent and desire to play then come on down and give it a shot,” Creek said.
“But Noah is a very good reflection of the Aboriginal community and he is a very talented kid, and it’s great that even though he doesn’t know it, he’s actually becoming a role model for other kids that he goes to school with, younger kids and the whole community.
“You always see his whole family being there to support him and it’s just great so to have that is fantastic for the community of Kalgoorlie, it’s fantastic for the club and his family especially get really rowdy and are great supporters of his which is tremendous to see.”