Written for nbl.com.au by Tom Hersz
When you’re so close to realising your dream only to have it taken away, it makes you want it even more.
That’s certainly the case for Angus Glover who suffered two ACL injuries in an 8-month span in 2017.
The talented Australian Junior, who was earlier selected for the 2017 Nike Hoop Summit, seemingly had the basketball world at his feet before his horror run of injuries started. Having just turned down a scholarship at Saint Mary’s University to turn pro, Glover’s dream of playing professional basketball has been on hold ever since.
But that dream is now within reach again, more than two years on.
The promising young guard out of Wollongong is finally back on court, playing the game he loves and ramping up towards the start of NBL20 and a two-year deal with his hometown Illawarra Hawks.
Glover returned to the court last month playing for the Hawks in the Waratah Youth League and has now played four games. Being back on court was surreal to say the least.
“I don’t think it really sunk in to be honest, until maybe two weeks after I played my first game,” Glover told NBL Media recently.
“I think the second game when we played at home, obviously playing in front of friends and family meant a bit more. It kind of sunk in afterwards, but that first game was pretty cool.
“I think now it’s finally clicked that I’m back and I’ve got no pain which is good, don’t think about it whatsoever, and just trying to play my natural game.”
Felt good to be back playing at the old stomping grounds today! Good team win and getting better every week
— Angus Glover (@GloverAngus10) May 18, 2019
What’s been evident so far is that Glover’s natural instincts for the game have not been lost. He’s been active on both ends of the floor and looks sharp offensively despite the long absence.
Glover is averaging 18 points per game and those points have come in a variety of ways. He’s scored at the rim, in transition, and possibly most impressively from the perimeter where he’s connected on 17 made three-pointers in those four games.
“I’m feeling really good,” said Glover.
“I’m shooting the ball really well too, which I’m really happy about, especially after being out of the game for two years. That’s one thing I want to carry into the NBL season. I think that’s one thing I can definitely bring, is shooting.
“All it is really is for me to try to build up, get game time under my legs and basically get ready for the preseason.”
Now that he can see the light at the end of the tunnel, Glover’s focus is squarely on what he has to do to get ready for the upcoming season and he’s certainly glad that the waiting is over.
Sitting on the sidelines gave him a lot of time to think, but despite the physical and mental hurdles he’s had to overcome, he never really doubted that he’d make it back, even if others did.
“When I first did it, I was obviously very upset and I thought about it [not recovering],” he admitted.
“But to me it was one of those things where there are a lot worse people off in the world. It puts it into perspective and yeah I haven’t played a game in two years, but I’ve actually got a pretty good life in terms of everything else.
“So that also made me want to get back in a way, and then obviously missing it so much and not playing – that was another spark to make sure I could get back and prove people wrong.
“I’ve had a countless amount of people tell me to give it up and I’ll never make it back to the NBL. So I guess it’s a good feeling to know that I’ve got a couple years here at this club and it feels good to prove those people wrong.”
With the NBL season now just four months away, it is important that Glover suffers no more setbacks between now and then.
He and the Hawks have mapped out a plan to ramp up; one that involves an increasing workload and level of intensity at each stop. This starts with staying local in the Waratah League Youth Division.
“I sat down with my physios, and Flinny [Hawks Coach Matt Flinn] and everyone at the Hawks,” Glover explained.
“We just thought it was a good first step for me in terms of still hanging around where the physios are, to make sure everything has gone right. Youth league is quite a competitive league so it’s great to be back playing no matter where I was playing.”
The next phase is to start the test his body even more and that needs to be at a higher level. Glover will need to get used to playing a more physical style of game as well as ramp up the speed with which he plays.
To do that, he needs to get as close to NBL competition as possible so will spend some time in the NBL1 next month. He will suit up for the BA CoE under Adam Caporn where he will play two to three games in short succession.
“That’s going to be good for me playing against some bigger bodies, some more experienced guys and things like that,” Glover said.
“And then when I come back preseason will start, so that’s pretty much the plan for me until NBL.”
While no one wants to sit and watch for two years, one benefit of all that time on the sidelines has been the opportunity to study the game from a different perspective.
It has allowed Glover to soak in different aspects of the game, in a professional environment, that he can now apply as he commences his own pro career. He has learnt a lot from watching his teammates, both at practice and during games and believes he is better for it in terms of how he now sees – and thinks – the game.
“I think my IQ has improved a lot because you look at the game from a different way,” Glover explained.
“You’re obviously not playing, or sitting on the bench going to play, so I think me sitting on the bench for two years and at training everyday, I get to watch.
“And Bevo for the past two years got me involved with things at training and he wanted my opinions on the game, so I think my IQ’s grown.”
There are two players who have had a particular impact on his approach entering his rookie season. One is veteran David Andersen, while the other is former Hawks Captain, Kevin White. Known for his tenacity defensively and ability to just make the right plays, White’s demeanour has had an influence on Glover.
And the emerging guard knows that with White now gone to Adelaide, there is a vacancy for someone to assume that defensive role.
“Now Whitey’s gone I really want to try and be that dog guy at this club if I can for years to come. So that’s my goal for this year, but other than that just, as much it sucks watching, I’ve learnt a lot from pretty much everyone that’s been here for the past two years.
“Especially Dave Andersen. He taught me how to be a pro off the court in a very short period of time. [The] AIS taught me how to look after my body, but then Dave’s just taken that to another level for me. He’s taught me some things and he’s been great.
“I’ve learnt something from everyone over the past two years.”
Had Glover not injured himself at the Nike Hoop Summit in 2017, who knows where he’d be now. His teammates on that International Roster included Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (LA Clippers), Isaiah Hartenstein (Houston Rockets) and R.J. Barrett (Duke University and 2019 NBA Draft Candidate).
It would be easy for Glover to wonder what might have been had he been able to showcase his game that year. It would be easy to think he may also now be in the NBA or on his way to being drafted, but the reality is he’s not.
And he doesn’t let that change what lies ahead for him now. Instead, it’s a reminder to appreciate where he is at, the opportunities he still has and to make the most of every moment.
“I’ve thought about it definitely, but I [try to] only think about the present with what I’ve got to look forward to – the NBL season,” Glover admitted.
“One thing I’ve learnt, especially over the past few years, is every time I step on the court I try to use that as my last time on court; like play as if it’s your last time.
“I mean, I was gearing up to potentially go back [to the Nike Hoop Summit] the year after, but obviously I reinjured myself. That was a bit heartbreaking knowing I could have potentially gone back over to see what I can do.
“I don’t really know what to say other than I wish I’d played, but then I also don’t regret it because it kind of makes me the person I am today, with going through what I’ve gone through.”
GLOVER ON HAND FOR NBL 20 | ?
We have inked local star & familiar face Angus Glover to a new two-year deal, who is on track to return for the start of the 19/20 NBL season.
— Illawarra Hawks (@illawarrahawks) December 5, 2018
In looking forward to the NBL season, new Hawks’ Head Coach Matt Flinn and General Manager Mat Campbell are not putting any pressure on Glover, aside from him contributing to the team’s goal; something he places above all else including any individual accolades.
“They’ve been very good to me those two,” said Glover of Flinn and Campbell.
“Both of them have kind of said to me ‘no expectations this year’ based on not being in the game for two and bit years.
“I don’t care if I get Rookie of the Year or not; it’s just a title to me.
“For me it’s all about trying to get a championship. Obviously we’re very young, but I think we’re going to shock some teams, so for me it’s just about shooting the ball when I’m open and trying to be that dog on defence if I can.”
That youth has become a hallmark of the Hawks. With Emmett Naar and Dan Grida last year, the Hawks have gone even younger for NBL20 with the additions of Glover, Sam Froling and Sunday Dech.
Glover will be competing for minutes with Naar, Grida and Dech, and possibly an import guard or two, but believes there is plenty of opportunity with White’s departure.
“You’ve got spots up for grabs in terms of minutes … but like I said, I want to be a dog on defence and I think if we all get that mindset it’s going to be quick rotations,” Glover explained.
“At the end of the day it’s a team game and I’m super excited to be playing with those young guys. Obviously knowing Dan and Emmett for the last year, and I know Sam as well from playing at the AIS and through junior national teams with him. I’m really looking forward to playing with those guys.”
There is a lot to look forward to for Glover and despite the long and difficult road back, he now has an end firmly in sight.
The Hawks commence their preseason in August and have already announced one of their preseason fixtures. They will play the South East Melbourne Phoenix in Albury on September 15.
Glover may have circled that date on his calendar, but then he already started clearing hurdles when he returned to the court last month.
He is oh-so-close to now realising his dream of becoming a professional basketball player and while he could focus on his own career, when asked how he sees the next 12 months playing out for him in an ideal world, the local product was team-first.
“I’d like to get through the NBL season and obviously at the end of the day everyone is vying for a championship; that’s the ultimate goal in our league,” Glover said excitedly.
“So that and then hopefully after the NBL season – I don’t know where that’s going to take me to be honest – could be overseas, could be … I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out.
“I’ve got two years here and hopefully it turns into a long stay here, but that’s the main thing for me. We’ve only won one championship and that was when I was two I think, so I’d love to – in my career – bring one back here.”
Count yourselves fortunate Hawkheads. You’ve got a good one coming your way this season.