Bullish performance for Cameron Bairstow
ABOUT this time last year, Cameron Bairstow wasn't even on the radar of NBA clubs.
Next month he has a great chance of following in the footsteps of Boomers assistant coach Luc Longley and lining up for the Chicago Bulls after being taken at pick 41 in the second round of this year's draft.
The 23-year-old did his chances no harm with an impressive 13 points and three rebounds in just 15 minutes of court time in Australia's 89-55 thrashing of South Korea in game two at the world championship in Spain.
The victory got Australia's campaign back on track after a disappointing 90-80 loss to world No.13 Slovenia in game one on Sunday morning.
Bairstow, who stands 208cm and weighs 114kg, admitted he had been a late developer. He missed out on a spot on the Australian U19 team, before belatedly being given a scholarship to the AIS in Canberra.
That saw him earn a place on the roster at the New Mexico Lobos in the American college system, where he acknowledged he "wasn't the best recruit they had".
What he did have was an enormous work ethic - New Mexico coach Craig Neal has actually joked the Queenslander would eat dog food if he thought it would make him a better basketballer.
"Since I was a youngster I've always wanted to play at a higher level," Bairstow told APN.
"I come from a big basketball family and they're all pretty competitive.
"My older brother played and my older sister made junior national teams. I've got a younger brother playing division two college ball in the US, and my younger sister (Stephanie) plays for Utah State.
"That's what has brought the best out of me."
Bairstow, who has signed with Chicago for the minimum NBA wage, a cool $A542,000-a-season, is playing second fiddle to Aron Baynes in the Boomers line-up at the world championships.
Baynes top scored with 21 points in the loss to Slovenia, and finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds against Korea.
The Aussies' next game is early tomorrow morning against Lithuania which leads Group D after beating Mexico 87-74 and Angola 75-62.