I’ve got one semester at Duke behind me now, and I feel like I’ve adjusted pretty well.
A big factor in that was living at the Australian Institute of Sport for two years before I came here. I was used to living away from home, obviously not in a different country, but that was a big stepping stone to becoming well-adjusted here.
My teammates and coaches played an integral role in helping me adjust to life at Duke. Those are the people I spend most of my time with; I’m in classes with most of the guys, I’m in practice with them every day, preparing for games. I’ve developed strong relationships with the coaches, as well.
If I ever start to feel homesick or anything like that, my coaches and teammates are always there to pick me up a bit. In saying that, I’ve never really felt that way or had time to miss home because I’m enjoying everything here so much.
It’s no accident that Duke Basketball is called “The Brotherhood.” Everybody here has great character and all of the guys were welcoming to me when I arrived on campus after missing both summer sessions.
I got off to a late start but there was never a time when I didn’t feel part of what was going on. Every one of the guys made me feel part of the team straight away and took time to make sure I was comfortable with everything.
There’s definitely a family feel in this program. Everyone looks out for one another, where it’s player-to-player, coach-to-player, among the coaching staff or with any of our other staff around campus. It’s just a big family, and the impact the program has on everyone who’s been through it shows in how much guys want to give back to Duke.
I knew the culture in the program was strong before I came here. Before my visit, I didn’t have the firsthand experience of exactly what that meant. I had a sense of what Duke Basketball was all about from watching games on TV.
When I actually saw the culture in person and experienced it for myself, it’s clear that family culture is one of the strongest things we have in this program.
On the court, things were a little different for me at first based on the speed of the game and the difference in style. We have a freakishly athletic team here and that took a little bit of getting used to. In Australia, I’d be one of the best, if not the best, athletes on the court. I could get away with certain things that I just can’t get away with here.
I feel like I’ve adjusted pretty well. I have a long way to go but I feel like I’m getting better every day with the support of my teammates and the coaching staff.
The mindset of putting in extra work and outworking the next guy was instilled in me from an early age. I was never the most talented player growing up, and it just kind of hit me one day that hard work was what it was going to take for me to achieve my dreams.
I like to think of myself as a bit of a late bloomer. I credit that to the amount of work I’ve put in and the people who have supported me along the way.
We have great players in our program and I don’t feel like I’m at the top right now. In order to improve, lift myself up and push my teammates to help make them better, I have to put in that work.
When I leave the Duke Basketball program, I want it to be in even better shape than when I came in. The way to do that is to work and push everyone, raise the standard even higher. Putting in the work and doing everything I can to help lift up the program is the best way to both help myself individually and leave a mark through my time here.
With that said, we’re in the middle of an incredibly important season here and it’s important for me to remain ready for any opportunity that arises. I pride myself on my preparation and I feel like that’s helped me get to where I am today.
If I continue to work and keep myself ready at all times, things will start to work themselves out.
With all the effort my parents, coaches and teammates have put into helping me get better all my life, I don’t think it would be right to not be ready when my name is called. I don’t want to be a guy who has to look back with regret and say, “I could’ve done this better, I could’ve done that better.” I want to make the most of every opportunity that comes my way.
At the end of the day, I just want to win and help this program continue to achieve uncommon things.
I want to be a guy who gets better every year, a guy who my teammates like. I hope I can do great things here as so many guys have before, and I know it’s going to be a lot of work. The standard has been set by all of those guys who came before us, and that’s an exciting thing to try to live up to.
There’s not any other place I’d want to be to try to achieve my dreams.
Funny enough, Duke was my favorite school growing up. I’ve wanted to come here since I was a kid, but I was a small-town Australian kid. I never would’ve thought that this would happen, but here I am and I want to make the most out of every opportunity that comes my way.