Original article from the Geelong Advertiser can be found HERE
Feature photo: Jacqui Neill
GROWING up in Geelong, Jordan O’Leary never imagined himself on the Arena court when he came to watch the Supercats play as a kid.
After playing VJBL with Geelong and Corio Bay, plus a stint at Melbourne Tigers, O’Leary
signed with the South Dakota Mines to play college basketball in late 2016.
“The whole college process was pretty quick. I got an offer and didn’t have much time to think about it, I signed and then left a few week later for the middle of America,” O’Leary recalls.
While enjoying the challenge and the experience of USA college basketball, O’Leary chose to return home after two seasons with the team.
“Just before I left, my mum got diagnosed with breast cancer,” O’Leary said.
“It was hard (being away). In the second year of college, our coach got fired, so at the end of the year, there was an opportunity for me to come back. I wanted to be there for mum.”
Returning to Geelong, O’Leary played for the Corio Bay Stingrays Youth League team, where in 2019 he averaged 19.7 points per game and was named to the All-Star 5 team.
Now signed to the Geelong Supercats NBL1 roster, O’Leary is adjusting from being a starter to providing energy and consistency off the bench.
“Going from being one of the better players in youth league, trying to manage myself having to play 35 minutes, to now only needing to play 5-10 minutes, I just need to come on and do everything I can in my time.
“When I’m on the court, I’m trying to run the plays for the other guys to score. There’s a lot on me to keep the flow going and make sure it’s going down the right path.”
The atmosphere of the Geelong Arena and playing on the Supercats home court is one of the perks of stepping up in to the NBL1 team.
“It was so surreal, the first game, being those people that run on to the court through all the lights,” O’Leary said.
“As a kid I went to tons of games. I watched people like Jarrod Leonard. I saw him sitting in a box the other week — he wore number 13, I wear number 13 — it’s just so weird to see someone I watched play 15 years ago sitting and watching me play now.”
The NBL1 has announced a postponement of all games this weekend following the statewide seven-day circuit breaker lockdown.
It is also uncertain how long the Geelong Supercats will be without head coach Justin Schueller, with Melbourne United being temporarily relocated to Brisbane on Tuesday
ahead of the Victorian lockdown.