Top int’l prospect Toohey spurns Zags for NBL


Top international basketball prospect Alex Toohey has decommitted from the Gonzaga Bulldogs and will sign with the Sydney Kings as part of the Australian National Basketball League Next Stars program, he told ESPN on Friday.

“Over time, while evaluating my situation, I felt the best pathway for me was right here in my own backyard,” Toohey said. “The opportunity to play for an organization like Sydney in the esteemed Next Stars program was simply too good to turn down.”

The 19-year-old from Australia was considered one of the most promising international prospects committing to the college route in the class of 2023, having already made a debut with his senior national team in FIBA competition in February 2021. He joined the Boomers again for their FIBA World Cup qualifiers in August, November and February, a rarity for a player his age. Toohey has been playing in Australia’s NBL1 competition this summer, averaging 17.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 28 minutes per game.

Toohey is the first Australian player to commit to the NBL Next Stars program since fellow NBA Global Academy alumnus Josh Giddey, who was the No. 6 pick in the 2021 NBA draft after playing for the Adelaide 36ers. The Next Stars program has gained steam in reeling in several highly touted international prospects currently projected to be drafted in 2024, including American guard A.J. Johnson (Illawarra), French big man Alex Sarr (Perth), Swedish wing Bobi Klintman (Cairns) and Lithuanian wing Mantas Rubstavicius (New Zealand).

“I’m super excited to be joining the Next Stars program and can’t wait to compete at the highest level in Australia and develop as a player,” Toohey said. “I know it will take a lot of hard work and commitment, but the next stars program is a proven path.”

Toohey’s Sydney Kings squad, part-owned by Australian great and former NBA No. 1 pick Andrew Bogut, won back-to-back NBL championships the past two years and recently hired Houston Rockets assistant Mahmoud Abdelfattah as its head coach. Toohey pointed to that as one of the reasons he elected to make the move.

“For me, joining the Sydney Kings means I will be part of a championship-winning team,” Toohey said. “I am excited to play under Coach Mahmoud and learn from my teammates, as well as Luc Longley and Andrew Bogut, who have both been where I am aiming to go. I’m also thrilled to play in front of the awesome Sydney Kings fans.”

Toohey was slated to enroll and arrive at Gonzaga next week before electing to reverse course and sign in the NBL.

Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analytics service utilized by NBA, NCAA and International teams.



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