Past & Present Aboriginal and Torres Islander Greats of Basketball

It's National Reconciliation Week 27 May - 03 June.  #NRW2017 celebrates 50 years since 1967 Referendum & 25 years since Mabo High Court Decision. 

In celebration of #NRW2017, Brian Kerle Basketball would like to acknowledge past and present Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander basketball players who have influenced the game and are an inspiration to younger generations. 

Danny Morseu (born 1 January 1958 in Thursday Island, Queensland) is an Australian basketball player who played on the Australian national basketball team in the 1980 Summer Olympics and 1984 Summer Olympics.

Danny spent his childhood in Tamwoy on Thursday Island.  He started playing basketball at school and despite being cut from his primary school team, he developed into a tall talented teenage athlete.  After completing school, he moved to Cairns where he played basketball and rugby league for local teams.

Morseu attracted the attention of National Basketball League coach Brian Kerle after playing a match against Kerle's club, the Melbourne-based St Kilda Saints – on tour of North Queensland.  Kerle convinced Morseu to move to Melbourne in 1978, where he played in St Kilda's championship winning teams of 1979 and 1980.  He played 217 NBL games in total, winning another NBL championship with the Brisbane Bullets in 1987.

Career Highlights and Awards

  • 3× NBL champion (1979, 1980, 1987)
  • Member of the Australian Olympic team at the (1980, 1984)
  • NBL Hall of Fame (2002)
  • Victoria University Sport Hall of Fame (2007)

Rohanee Cox (born 23 April 1980 Broome, Western Australia).  After 301 games and 17 seasons, Olympian and Brydens Sydney Uni Flames star Rohanee Cox retired from the WNBL at the end of the 2015/16 season.

Inspired to play basketball after meeting Michelle Timms and Andrew Vlahov at a coaching camp for local children in Broome. She represented Western Australia before launching her WNBL career at 16 years of age with the AIS showing the skill and determination that she has become so well known for.

She has previously played for the Australian Institute of Sport, Perth Lynx, Townsville Fire and West Coast Waves. She was one of the first Australian aboriginals to represent Australia in basketball at the Olympics and won a silver medal with the Opals at the 2008 Summer Olympics.  She also previously played in the State Basketball League for the Willetton Tigers, and has spent time in the Queensland Basketball League with the Townsville Flames, Mackay Meteroettes and Cairns Dolphins.

Career Highlights and Awards

Nathan Leon Jawai (born 10 October 1986), an Indigenous Australian of Torres Strait Islander descent, is a professional basketball player for the Cairns Taipans of the National Basketball League (NBL). Standing at 209 cm, he plays at the power forward and center positions.  Nathan has played all over the world including the U.S., Serbia, Spain and Turkey.

Jawai was drafted 41st overall in the 2008 NBA draft by the Indiana Pacers; however, his rights were traded to the Toronto Raptors.  On 11 July 2008, he signed a two-year deal with the Raptors, and the nicknames soon rolled in with "Aussie Shaq", "Outback Shaq" and "Baby Shaq", due to his resemblance to Shaquille O'Neal.  He was also nicknamed "Big Nate" by Toronto commentators.

Career Highlights and Awards

  • NBL champion (2016)
  • Basketball League of Serbia champion (2011)
  • Adriatic League champion (2011)
  • Adriatic League Final Four MVP (2011)
  • NBL Rookie of the Year (2008)
  • All-NBL Second Team (2008)
  • NBL All-Star Game MVP (2008)
  • ABA All-Star Five (2007)

Michael Ah Matt

Michael Ah Matt (30 November 1942 – 1984) was the first ever Indigenous Australian basketball player who played for Australia at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Ah Matt was born on 30 November 1942 in Townsville, Queensland.  He grew up in Darwin, Northern Territory.  He represented the Northern Territory at the 1959 Australian Championships.  After the Championships, he moved to Adelaide, South Australia to play with South Adelaide Panthers.  He played a then record 588 games over twenty seasons the Panthers.

In 1964, he was a member of the Australian team at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and a member of the Australian team that participated in the pre-Olympic qualifying tournament in Monterrey prior to the Mexico Olympic Games.  Former Australian Olympian Darryl Pearce said of Ah Matt, "He had an amazing sense of where he was on the court and he could see players where no-one could understand how he could actually pass the ball the way he did."

Career Highlights and Awards

  • Member of the Australian team at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics
  • Aboriginal and Islander Sports Hall of Fame
  • With Adrian Blair and Frank Roberts the first Indigenous Australians to represent Australia at the Olympic Games in 1964.
  • In 2010, inducted into the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame.


Patrick Sammy "Patty" Mills (born 11 August 1988 Thursday Island) is a professional basketball player for the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA.   Mills was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers with the 55th overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft after playing college basketball for Saint Mary's College of California. He also played for the Melbourne Tigers of the National Basketball League and the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association during the NBA lockout. He signed with the San Antonio Spurs in 2012 and won an NBA championship with them in 2014. He plays the point guard position.

Patty was called up to the Boomers in July 2007, making his debut against Austria on 31 July in an international friendly tournament in Bormio, Italy.  Mills scored 11 points off the bench and was credited with changing the complexion of the match, which Australia won, 84–63.  This not only made him one of the youngest Boomers ever,  but also made him only the third Indigenous Australian, after Michael Ah Mat in the 1960s and Danny Morseu in the 1980s, to play for the Boomers. 

Mills led the 2012 Olympics in scoring when he averaged with 21.2 points per game with the Australian national basketball team, the Boomers.

Career Highlights and Awards

Danny Morseu and Brian Kerle 2016

Danny Morseu and Brian Kerle 2016

Danny Morseu, Brian Kerle and St Kilda's 1980 NBL champion team

Danny Morseu, Brian Kerle and St Kilda's 1980 NBL champion team