News

Mitch Norton: Living the Dream

When the Townsville Crocodiles take the floor in Melbourne on Friday night, point guard Mitch Norton will take a second to soak in the moment. The game will be Norton’s 100th in the NBL and the youngster is swelling with pride about reaching the milestone with his beloved Crocs. “It’s pretty special. To play 100 games for my home-town club is like a dream come true,” he said. A dream come true, indeed. Norton’s NBL journey has been something of a basketball fairy-tale. Once upon a time, during the 2002/03 season, a nine year old Norton visited The Swamp to attend his very first Townsville home game.  Excited to see stars like Rob Rose, Pat Reidy and Mike Kelly in person, Norton and his family arrived early and waited for the doors to open. What happened next turned out to be a sliding doors moment – an interaction that would change Norton’s life forever. Young Mitch Norton “I went down to floor level to watch Mike Kelly and the guys shoot around and Mike asked me to rebound for him,” the point guard explains. Norton did a good job and when he arrived early for the next home game, Kelly recruited him for help once again.  Soon enough, Norton had solidified himself as a key element in the Crocs’ game day preparation. “I depended on him to rebound before games,” Kelly recalls. “We’ve all got our routines and he became a great, no-nonsense little helper. He wasn’t like a kid that was getting in the way, we wanted him there ‘cos he’d help you get your shots as best he could.” Norton’s work before games led to a conversation with head coach Ian Stacker and an invitation to attend Townsville’s training sessions one night a week, so long as his homework was completed ahead of time. “I started out floor-sweeping and running the clock during scrimmages,” Norton explained. “That was super intense with guys like Rob Rose and Pat Reidy on the court, those guys were super competitive – you had to stop that clock as soon as the ball went through the basket. I went home a few nights a bit upset.” It was there, watching his heroes develop their games away from the adoring crowds, bright lights and TV cameras, that Norton fell in love with the game. “That’s what made me want to make a career out of basketball, just being around that professional environment and seeing those guys work day-in, day-out,” he said. norton Now, over a decade down the track, Norton is the Crocs’ starting point guard having debuted with the club as a development player in 2011 and worked his way up the ranks. “It’s a great achievement for a man so young to have already played 100 games,” said Townsville head coach Shawn Dennis. “He epitomises the club as a whole. The thing I love about Mitch is he wears his heart on his sleeve for this club. He’s a Townsville boy and he’s been around the team since he was so young. Now to have made it to 100 games, he’s quintessentially that childhood dream come true.” Amazingly, at just 22, Norton will be the only active Crocodile on Friday night to have played in 100 NBL games.  Centre Luke Schenscher has played over 200 but is currently sidelined with an ankle injury. The secrets to Norton’s success, according to Dennis, are his focus on the team and his commitment to developing his game. “He doesn’t care about the individual accolades, he’s more concerned about the team. That’s his greatest trait,” Dennis said. “He’s had his ups and down this season but he’s young and he’s out there always trying to get better.” Kelly, who worked with Norton for two years as an assistant coach at the Crocs, echoes those sentiments. “He tries to get better every day. I know we say that about everybody but he really does,” he said. “His mentality is that he needs to get better every day in order to compete with the great guards that he’s going against every game. He works very hard to do that.” For some of the Townsville legends of the past – guys Norton used to help out before games – watching that helpful little kid reach the century milestone will be especially enjoyable. None, of course, will enjoy it more than Kelly, who will have a front-row seat as part of the Melbourne United coaching staff. Don’t expect any favours, though – Kelly has already repaid his debt. “When I was coaching in Townsville and he was on the team, we laughed that I was rebounding for him just like he rebounded for me.”
NEWS

Taipans Complete Roster with Experienced Point Guard

12 hours ago

NEWS

Perth Add NBL1 Standout as DP

19 hours ago

FEATURE

Gliddon Eyes Return to Best

19 hours ago

NEWS

Report: Makur Maker Signs NBA Deal

1 day ago

NBL23

Analysis: Breakout Candidates

1 day ago

NEWS

Humphries Drawn to United "Prestige"

1 day ago

FREE AGENCY

36ers Add “Extra Edge” to Roster

1 day ago

NEWS

NBL Trading Cards Return With Topps

1 day ago

GAME REPORT

Gaels Overrun Phoenix in OT Thriller

2 days ago

FREE AGENCY

Hawks Welcome Emerging Point Guard

2 days ago

LaMelo Ball Leads Hawks, Taipans Beat Bullets Again

16 September 2019

Fourth Place Frustration for Boomers in China

15 September 2019

FIBA World Cup Bronze Medal Game | Australia v France Preview

15 September 2019

Prather Shines In United's Big Win, Taipans Smash Bullets

14 September 2019

Starting Five: World Cup Heartbreak

14 September 2019

Spain Again Breaks Boomers Hearts in Double OT

13 September 2019

Watch Live | Illawarra Hawks vs Melbourne United

13 September 2019

FIBA World Cup Semi-Final | Australia v Spain Preview

13 September 2019

Starting Five: Boomers Two Wins from Gold

12 September 2019

Australia Advance to World Cup Final Four

12 September 2019

NBL Partners

Naming Rights
Major Partners
Broadcast & Media Partners
Profile Partners
Suppliers
Associates