Kings' Toohey could declare for NBA draft a year early

Jasper BruceAAP
Alex Toohey (left) has exploded onto the NBL scene with the Sydney Kings this season. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS)
Camera IconAlex Toohey (left) has exploded onto the NBL scene with the Sydney Kings this season. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

Sydney Kings young gun Alex Toohey is open to declaring for the NBA draft next year after initially planning to spend two seasons in Australia's National Basketball League.

Toohey, 19, declined a basketball scholarship from Gonzaga University in Washington state to begin his professional career with the Kings this season.

The 203cm-tall forward is contracted as part of the NBL's Next Star program, designed to prepare elite young prospects for the NBA draft.

Former Next Stars LaMelo Ball, Josh Giddey, Ousmane Dieng and RJ Hampton have all been selected with first-round NBA draft picks in recent years.

With no college experience, Toohey entered the program expecting he may need to spend two years at the back-to-back NBL champions before taking his one chance to nominate for the draft.

"We don't want to get in a position where we're planning for it to be one year and if it doesn't happen in that one year, it's deemed a failure," Toohey told AAP.

The Game AFL 2024

"We had that two-year plan laid out."

But Toohey has emerged as a fast favourite of new Kings coach Mahmoud Abdelfattah amid the side's wealth of talent in the three and four-man spots.

He has started all 11 of Sydney's games so far this season for an average of 10.3 points and 4.5 rebounds from 22 minutes on the floor.

"Nothing's guaranteed anywhere, it's been a bit of luck and hard work that I have been able to play a lot and be in a starting position," Toohey said.

The Canberra native has adjusted quickly to the mental rigours of professional sport.

"He carries himself like a seasoned professional," Kings captain Shaun Bruce told AAP.

"He's very smart and he knows how to impact the game in a lot of different ways."

Toohey's fast start has led him to surge in 2024 NBA draft estimations.

NBA draft scouts have travelled to Australia to keep an eye on the youngster's progress, and earlier this month The Athletic named him as 30th pick in their mock draft.

Toohey will lean on his family and those close to him before he makes any decisions about his future, but is open to shortening the length of his stay in the NBL.

"I'll talk to people in my circle and people that probably know a bit more about that process than I do," he said.

"They'll give me some good insight and feedback into what they think is best, but I'm definitely open to (nominating for the draft) this year."

Toohey will have until 60 days before draft night on June 27 to determine whether to nominate for selection.

Whatever happens in 2024, the Kings have little doubt Toohey is on the path to achieving his NBA dream.

"I'm just going to enjoy the time we have him here in the NBL and with us at the Kings, because his future's super-bright," Bruce said.

"I've got no doubt he's going to do great things."

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