New Sydney Kings import Kevin Ratzsch sounds like the type of guy that will stop at nothing to prove that he has got game and belongs as an elite basketballer.
The 6’7″ swingman signed recently with the team from the Harbour City with relatively little fanfare and plenty of “who’s that?” type comments from fans, who were unfamiliar with the Northern State University product’s game. But if you listen to Ratzsch, that will all change.
In a feature today in the American Chronicle, Ratzsch talks of his excitement and energy in joining Australia’s National Basketball League:
“This is a high level league in a big media city in Australia,” Ratzsch said in a recent e-mail with the Aberdeen American News. “I feel that all the cards are in the right place and the timing is perfect to come into the league and this is a place for me, but it could also open even bigger doors in the future.”
He clearly has ambition. If you’re a Kings fan, don’t be disuaded by his desire to “open bigger doors in the future.” I certainly would not want a player joining my team who didn’t have the drive to take his game to the highest leagues in the world — when you get non-ambitious players, that’s when you see wasted talent that fails to meet expectations.
The athletic, versatile American has certainly impressed wherever he has landed so far.
He graduated from Northern State in 2009. He finished his career with 1,852 points, which is the eighth most in school history. He garnered several All-American selections following his senior campaign and was selected to play in the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-Star Classic at the 2009 Elite Eight in Springfield, Mass.
The Kings are his fourth overseas team. He began his professional career in Ireland in the Superleague, then played in the ABA Big V in Melbourne, Australia. This past season, he played for Oviedo Spain in LEB Plata.
He averaged 14.7 points and six rebounds per game this past season playing in Spain. He was in the running for that league’s MVP award before being slowed by a late season injury.
“I had a stellar year, but had to sit the last 10 of 12 games due to a muscle tear,” said Ratzsch, who recently turned 25-years-old. “I had a great time and the organization really focused on the family aspect and that really helped.”
He came to the attention of Australian fans at the High Stakes Hoops tournament in Adelaide a couple of years back and almost landed with the Kings for the 2010/11 season, after a tryout which Ratzsch pushed for himself. Unfortunately the Kings went in a different direction ultimately, following a known-route, rather than signing the newcomer.
“A lot of big-time players were there and I had a great showing, so that sparked interest from the NBL,” Ratzsch said, “but unfortunately, I was overlooked last season. But the Kings changed their minds about me over the past year and they pursued me early on and I didn’t wait for any other teams to offer. My agent and I worked only with the Kings from the get-go and I have no regrets.”
Highlights of Ratzsch during the HSH tournament:
In the mould that Kings coach Ian “Moose” Robilliard loves, he has a chip on his shoulder and a clear driving ambition to prove to Sydney fans that he belongs. Surely that will make him a fan favourite.
“I’ve been overlooked my whole career and this is my shot to prove that I belong with the best,” Ratzsch said.
Ratzsch signed a one-year contract with the Kings, but it could lead to multiple years. He will be in Aberdeen in early July for former Northern State teammate Kyle Schwan’s wedding. He will later leave for Sydney in mid-August to prepare for the season.
“At the moment I’m still rehabbing my injury, so my offseason training is somewhat put on hold,” he said, “but as soon as I’m cleared, I don’t plan on wasting any time.”