Mareeba's Aron Baynes selected for Boomers Olympic basketball team
THE remarkable rise of Aron Baynes reached new heights yesterday when he was selected to make his Olympic debut in a strong Boomers line-up.
The 207cm Mareeba giant, a member of the Boomers’ team since 2009, was rewarded for his stellar recent form at both international level and for Greek club side Ikaros
Baynes, 25, will fill the shoes of injured NBA superstar Andrew Bogut and is expected to play a key role in their London campaign when competition begins in just over a month’s time.
NBA point guard Patty Mills will be at the helm while NBL talents Mark Worthington, Adam Gibson and Peter Crawford all made the team.
He is the second Far North product to play basketball at the Olympics, behind Danny Morseau who played at both the 1980 and 1984 Games.
It is a brilliant tale considering he only picked up the sport as a 15-year-old when spotted by a teacher at Cairns State High School.
His brother Callum had just started work at the school and he mentioned to the school’s basketball coach Brad Burdon about his well-built little brother.
"He said he was 6’4" and only 15. I said ‘Let’s go get him’," Burdon said.
"We still laugh at how he was when he started. He was big, unco and couldn’t catch a ball."
Burdon said he started to "get it" when he turned 17.
"And the rest was history," Burdon said.
"He won us a schools state title in year 12, went on to the AIS, then Washington for college and now he’s playing some very good basketball in Greece."
Cairns Basketball general manager Mike Scott said it was a great story considering how late he started.
"It shows it’s never too late to take up a sport and chase a dream," he said.
"Cairns basketball is just ecstatic. There must be something in the avos up there (in Mareeba)."
Baynes was born in New Zealand but grew up in Mareeba and Cairns, before accepting an AIS scholarship and attending Washington State University.
As a teenager he played for the Marlins and was selected in Queensland junior sides while attending Cairns State High.
Baynes cracked the Boomers squad in 2009 and played in the World Championships the following year.
TEAM: Boomers: Patty Mills, Matthew Dellavedova, Joe Ingles, Adam Gibson, Peter Crawford, Brad Newley, David Barlow, David Andersen, Matt Nielsen, Mark Worthington, Aleks Maric, Aron Baynes.
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In the big time: Aron Baynes has been selected for the Australian men's basketball team for the London Olympics. Picture: GETTY IMAGES.