A point guard with Canberra history is off to ply his trade in Utah, and it's not Dante Exum.
Tad Dufelmeier is torn between leaving the Canberra Gunners in the midst of a finals charge to chase his own dream, as he believes they can win the SEABL title.
The Gunners' 116-98 home win over Sandringham on Friday was his last before heading to Salt Lake City College next week. It was the perennial strugglers' fourth win in a row and a sixth in seven games. Canberra (9-10) has catapulted to equal-fourth place in the East Conference after winning just three of its first 12 matches.
Dufelmeier, whose father Tad snr is a Canberra Cannons legend, has scrimmaged with Exum at the Australian Institute of Sport.
The 18-year-old is heading to Salt Lake City. He said Jazz draft pick Exum and fellow Canberra product Patty Mills, who won this year's NBA title with San Antonio, are his role models. "I grew up watching Patty and seeing him around. To see he can come from the same place I have, and get to that level,'' the Australian under-19 representative said. "Even Dante practising with him at the AIS, he's unbelievable to watch and he's assured of being a superstar.
"It's been my dream for a long time to play basketball as my career; I don't really want to sit behind a desk, I want to do what I love.''
The Gunners set up the win over the Sabres with a dominant 67-44 first half. US import Garlon Green (30 points, 11 rebounds, five assists) and Daniel Joyce (29 points) were outstanding in a balanced team effort.
A first finals appearance is now a real possibility with a favourable draw to come, but Dufelmeier believes they can challenge for the title.
"I wish them all the best. We're definitely hitting our stride and can make a big push to win the whole thing,'' he said. "The start of the season was a bit shaky, but everybody's filling their role really well and we're hard to stop at the moment.
"They've brought in people like Shawn [McEachin, coach] and the two imports [Green and Matt Staff]. It's great for Canberra basketball.''
In the women's match, strong games from Alice Coddington and Nat Hurst were not enough to spearhead the Canberra Capitals to victory, with Sandringham prevailing 80-72.