STAR MAN: Torrey Craig (right) is fouled by Jesse Wagstaff during the NBL round eight game between the Perth Wildcats and the Cairns Taipans last month.
STAR MAN: Torrey Craig (right) is fouled by Jesse Wagstaff during the NBL round eight game between the Perth Wildcats and the Cairns Taipans last month. Paul Kanegetty

Career choice right for star US import

CAIRNS Taipans forward and star US import Torrey Craig was so athletically gifted at high school, he could have also made a career out of gridiron.

The 23-year-old stuck with basketball after excelling at both sports, because his heart was more into shooting hoops.

You could say it was a sound decision.

He went on to become the University of South Carolina Upstate's career leader in rebounds (944) and its second-ranked scorer (2128 points).

The Taipans have benefited from the 198cm man's athletic prowess, the team second with 11 wins and five losses.

Craig also took out the Player of the Week award for round nine, in his team's 85-80 win over Adelaide.

Coming off the bench, he put up a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds in under 25 minutes, grabbing four boards in as many minutes in the first quarter.

Cairns coach Aaron Fearne believes the college record-maker can be a

10-rebound-a-game player.

It's something Craig - averaging 8.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game - wants to aspire to, as he looks for a stronger second half of the season in his quest to play in the NBA.

"That's possible (10 rebounds a game) for me to do, but some nights you just have to rely on the ball to bounce your way," Craig told APN.

"Ever since I was a kid it was dream to play in the NBA, but I want to be successful here first."

Craig said he still hadn't yet reached peak form Down Under.

That is because fellow college star and point guard Scottie Wilbekin, a former Southeastern Conference Player of the Year from the Florida Gators, has been the go-to man at Cairns.

"I just had to adjust to my role in the team and learn to take a back seat, and I'm starting to feel more comfortable in that role now," Craig said.

"Me and Scottie hang out every day - we're always going to the gym together, pushing each other and shooting on our off days."

Cairns' latest win - an 83-59 thumping over league-leaders the New Zealand Breakers on Sunday - outlined just how much of a chance it has of winning its maiden NBL crown.

"This is the best chance we've had to win the title this year - we just have to work on our consistency a bit more," Craig said.

The Taipans' next assignment will be away to the last-placed Wollongong on Saturday night.



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