NBL legend coaches Gladstone kids before return to court

HELPING HAND: Derek Rucker is holding clinics in the lead-up to his return match at 47 years old.
HELPING HAND: Derek Rucker is holding clinics in the lead-up to his return match at 47 years old. Mike Richards

GAME-CHANGING basketball player Derek Rucker, who starred in Australia's NBL for 15 seasons, began the first of four clinics with Gladstone kids on Friday.

"What we're doing is trying to get the juniors, the local kids, involved in the game," Rucker said.

"I'm trying to provide some expertise that they might not have been privy to in the past."

The American-born basketballer is known for his aggressive, attacking style.

He was met by an extremely excited crowd of youngsters at the clinic at Kev Broome Stadium in a visit organised by the McDonald's Port City Power basketball team.

The clinic will focus on skills fundamental to the sport.

"I think one of the things that's lost now is the basics of basketball, so you'll see a lot of focus on fundamentals and enjoying the game," he said.

Rucker is passionate about the role of sport in young people's lives.

"I'm trying to play at 47, so I want the kids to get that if I can play at 47 then anything is really possible," he said.

Asked whether any of the Gladstone kids stood out as talented players, he said he'd already noticed two promising players.

"There's a couple of little girls out there who look like they've got some ability," he said.

"I'm very keen to watch them over the next few weeks, and also watch how (they all) improve.

"Often kids are stimulated in weird ways. When someone new comes in, it might drive a little more out of them.

"Then when they go back to the coach they'll be somewhat changed - I hope for the better."

The clinics will culminate in a camp from May 23-25 where Rucker will play in a game.

Rucker said he was glad to be in central Queensland.

"It's (been) a chance for me to spread what I know and give back to central Queensland," he said.

Topics:  basketball derek rucker gladstone sport national basketball league phoenix power