NBL1 West 2022: Slammers youngster receives award in lead-up to US trip

Headshot of Justin Fris
Justin FrisManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Slammers forward Caleb Van De Griend will play for Minot State, an NCAA division two program based in North Dakota.
Camera IconSlammers forward Caleb Van De Griend will play for Minot State, an NCAA division two program based in North Dakota. Credit: Jon Gellweiler/South Western Times

South West Slammers offensive ace Caleb Van De Griend is going places in basketball — literally.

Chances are while you are reading this, Van De Griend will be high in the sky flying to the US to begin his college basketball career in North Dakota.

For Van De Griend, who was born and raised in California before relocating to the South West, the transition is likely to be easier.

“It is a massive advantage that I am a United States citizen,” he said in Bridgetown on Tuesday morning, before his midnight flight from Perth.

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.


“I think it will especially help because it will be the first time I’ve ever flown by myself, so I will have to work things out.

“But it is very exciting.”

Van De Griend ended the season with a double-double (25 points and 16 rebounds) against the Mandurah Magic last Friday night, which capped off a remarkable second season for him at NBL1 West level.

While blown away that he was awarded the 2022 NBL1 West men’s young player of the year, Van De Griend was humbled to receive it on the same night one of his mentors was inducted into the Basketball WA hall of fame.

“When we were finished, I stayed at my cousin’s place in Mandurah,” Van De Griend said. “I then hung around Perth and was able to attend the awards night.

“It was pretty amazing — and to receive it on the same night that my former Slammers coach (and Australian Boomers legend) Mark Worthington was inducted into the hall of fame made it even more special.”

Worthington, who is a big fan of Van De Griend’s qualities on and off the court, is thrilled the humble forward is getting a chance to shine brightly.

“Caleb is a fantastic kid,” Worthington said. “From day one, he has always wanted to work hard. He came in very green and raw, but he was an absolute delight to coach.

“It has been awesome to watch his progress, and in many ways, his basketball journey is just starting.”

With so many quality performances on tape, Van De Griend’s Minot State coach Matt Murken has been able to keep tabs on the young gun’s progress.

“I’ve been in communication with him for a month now,” he said. “He has seen highlights and watched game film of me, so he knows all about what has been happening.

“Both coach Murken and myself are excited, so it should be good.”

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails