The game of basketball has truly gone international.
Not only has it expanded to locales like South America, Italy, France and Spain, but it's really gained popularity in Australia, where the NBA influence is really noticeable. You have Andrew Bogut, who has been a real key contributor to the Golden State Warriors. Dante Exum, who is currently playing for the Utah Jazz, and Matthew Dellavedova, who is suiting up for Lebron and Company in Cleveland.
But the Australian influence is being felt in the Mountain West, particularly at Boise State, where the team has been led not just by scoring star James Webb III, but by two guys from Down Under that have provided some pretty exciting moments in the school's history. One looks the part of a slim, athletic basketball player who can take unbelievable amount of punishment on his body. The other looks like your next door neighbor.
Those guys are Anthony Drmic and Nick Duncan.
Drmic, who has been a fantastic 3 point shooter for the Broncos, goes into Saturday's game against San Jose State just 27 points shy of being the all-time leading scorer in Boise State history. All this despite the fact that he has been injury prone during his time with the school.
Former Bronco Derrick Marks told the Idaho Statesman he is proud of Drmic. Marks came back from Italy where is currently playing to watch the regular season finale Sunday in San Jose.
(Video Courtesy of the Idaho Statesman)
His rookie year at Boise State, he played 29 games and averaged 12 points a game as the Broncos finished 13-17. The next year, his numbers improved significantly, raising his scoring average to 17.7 points per contest and a .392 three point percentage as Boise State made the NCAA Tournament. As a result of his incredible play. Drmic was named All-Mountain West in 2013 and 2014.
In 2014-15, Drmic missed most of the year with an ankle injury. Despite this, the team made the NCAA Tournament. It was definitely a disappointing time for the young Aussie, who would have most likely made a huge impact for his team in the round of 68.
Going into the 2015-16 season, expectations ran high for the Broncos, who were expected to be one of the top contenders for the Mountain West Championship. Despite the loss of star guard Derrick Marks, Boise State had lots of firepower in their lineup. Drmic, who had a real shot to become the all-time leading scorer, was expected to be one of the main ingredients of this lineup. And he has done just that, having 8 games of 20 points or better, including a 30 point performance in a 80-78 loss at New Mexico on February 17th. In the Broncos biggest win against Oregon on December 12th, Drmic had 19 points.
Unfortunately for the Broncos, the team went hot and cold late in the season, resting their hopes of a NCAA postseason bid on winning the Mountain West Tournament, which will take place this week in Las Vegas. Despite not grabbing a bid outright, Drmic had a good senior season for Boise State, and will go down as one of the best athletes in Boise State history.
Question is, should Drmic's jersey be retired?
"Most definitely," said coach Leon Rice on Idaho Sports Talk with Caves and Prater on Sportsradio 93.1 FM. "It would be great to see his jersey raised to the rafters."
Drmic is not the only star from the land down under who has made a nice impact for Boise State. His fellow countryman, Nick Duncan is making waves as well.
At 6'8 and 245 pounds, Duncan does not look like your average basketball player. He looks like the everyday man who goes out with his buddies after a long day at work, and plays a couple of games of pickup basketball at the local gym, then proceeds to chug down a couple of beers afterwards.
Looks can be deceiving.
Duncan told CBS Sports.com in December that he never had an impressive physique.
"From an early age, I wasn't always the most athletic-looking guy," Duncan said. "But I always thought it's not about the tangibles that are given but the intangibles that matter. And every team I've been on, I [tell them] that it's not about [athleticism] but what wins games and championships are the small things on the floor like diving on loose balls and taking charges. So coming over, I've tried to portray that all the little things like team, sportsmanship, and camaraderie because that's what will get us to where we want to be by the end of the season."
A native of Sydney, Duncan began his Bronco career in 2013-14, averaging 5 points in 17 minutes a game. However, his playing time has increased since then, and can deliver some big moments for Boise State when needed. On January 20th against San Jose State, Duncan scored 24 points, including 6 of 12 from 3 point range. A week and half later against New Mexico, he had 19 points and 4 rebounds. In last week's upset of San Diego State, Duncan had two three pointers in the final minute to help the Broncos to a 66-63 victory over the regular season champion Aztecs.
It would behoove this program to continue to recruit in Australia, because of the gems they have already found. In a country best known for Hugh Jackman, Mel Gibson, Men at Work, INXS and Kylie Minogue, they have other great countrymen they can be proud of.
And they can be found right here in the Pacfic Northwest.