Hunter coach moves on to fresh challenge

GLOBETROTTING Newcastle Hunters mentor Matt Paton will continue his coaching odyssey in Australia's basketball heartland.

Paton, who has coached the Hunters Youth League men for the past two years, has been appointed director of basketball and head coach at Tenison Woods College, Mount Gambier, home of the Pioneers South East Australian Basketball League club.

The South Australian Catholic school is near the Victorian border, 440 kilometres south-east of Adelaide and about 400 kilometres west of regional Victorian basketball strongholds Bendigo, Ballarat, and Geelong.

The 34-year-old career coach will run the school's Titans academy, a basketball program for year 8 to year 12 students aimed at improving their skills, developing strong school teams and establishing a pathway to the American college system for scholarship candidates.

Before returning to Newcastle in 2010, Paton spent four years as an assistant coach for the University of Hawai'i Division I NCAA women's basketball team.

He spent the 2004-05 season as an assistant at Antelope Valley Community College in California, after two seasons as head coach of the Maitland Mustangs women's team in the Australian Basketball Association (now known as Waratah Basketball League).

Paton was an assistant for the Hunter Pirates in the National Basketball League, worked in Europe as head coach of Swiss club Sarnen, and began his career as a coach and assistant for junior teams in Canberra, including a stint with the Australian Institute of Sport.

"Rohan Stevenson, the Newcastle Basketball development manager, saw the job advertised on the Basketball Australia website and told me about it," Paton said.

"He thought it might be something I'd be interested in, and it pretty much sounded like me to a T.

"I'm really excited about the opportunity to take on a job like this at a school that places so much importance on basketball, and I'm looking forward to the challenge.

"There were certain requirements they were looking for that were within my experience, such as US collegiate experience and knowledge of the recruiting system, and the ability and the network to help kids get to the USA on basketball scholarships.

"They wanted someone with experience developing younger high school athletes, so there were a few things in my favour in that regard.

"It all happened fairly quickly - about a month in total from my application, to the interview via webcam last Thursday, to being offered the position on Monday."

Paton, whose father, Keith, is patriarch of the Lake Macquarie-based Lakers junior basketball club, has work commitments to complete before he leaves.

Newcastle Basketball general manager Ivan Spyrdz said Paton would head to Mount Gambier with the association's best wishes.

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