Taipan in the Clarence
PROFESSIONAL basketballer Mitchell Young shook off disappointment to visit family in the Clarence.
The 206cm forward's Cairns Taipans missed the NBL finals on percentages after finishing on equal points with the Sydney Kings.
After the premature conclusion to his first NBL season, the 23-year-old turned his attention to the idyllic surfing and fishing location that has served him and his younger brothers Zac and Billy with years of happy memories.
"Ever since school holidays growing up I've always loved surfing at Iluka and fishing," Young said.
"The season finished so I had some spare time and came down to catch up. Got a couple of flathead yesterday, bit muddy today"
Young's grandparents Norm and Shirley Young live in Grafton and his other grandparents live in Coffs.
The Brisbane native's connection to the area also stretches to the basketball court, having played for Logan Thunder against Grafton sides throughout juniors.
Norm can claim partial responsibility for the basketball influence. He was into many sports, including sailing, hockey and squash, but was also a keen basketballer.
"Back then the only basketball court was in the drill hall," Norm said.
"It was on the bitumen court where the netball now is. Boy, you used to lose some bark out there."
Young joined the Taipans directly from graduating at St Mary's near San Francisco in the US college system, where he roomed with current Cleveland Cavaliers and Australian Boomers guard Matt Dellavedova.
He has represented Australia at junior level and played in the silver medal-winning Australian University team at the World Uni Games in Russia.
In Cairns he feels right at home with great fishing on the Great Barrier Reef at his doorstep.
"It's a bit of a change from San Fran but a great lifestyle and it's the only national sport in Cairans, so everyone gets right behind the Taipans," he said.
"After slaving away for so long and studying at the same time it's pretty good to finally get paid to do something you love."
MITCHELL YOUNG FACT FILE
Rebounds: 3.1 per game
Points: 3.9 per game