Force star back for final shot
RYAN Jeffries has always dreamt of playing in the NBL so when he heard former NBA player and Boomers star Shane Heal would coach the Ipswich Force in 2012, there was only one place he wanted to be.
Jeffries has become the first new signing for the Ipswich Force as they prepare for a new era under the tutelage of an Australian basketball legend.
After eight seasons in Ipswich, Jeffries headed to Rockhampton last year in search of a QBL title and more exposure to NBL scouts.
Neither the title nor the NBL contract eventuated and the 25-year-old shooting guard knew he had to make one last charge towards his NBL dream.
"As soon as I heard Shane Heal was coaching, I was very interested," Jeffries said about his return to the Force.
"I am looking at this as my last chance and I'm going to put everything into it.
"My main goal is to get into the NBL and I think he can help me improve all areas of my game.
"The main reason I am coming back is to learn from an NBL great, it can't do me any harm can it?"
Jeffries knows it won't be easy though.
With each year that passes, another generation of young players graduate to the senior ranks.
"Most NBL coaches are looking for 17-18 year olds who can pretty much do the same stuff as myself," he said.
"I think over the last couple of years though, I've developed a lot as a player.
"I think I'm now a smarter player but I'm still athletic enough to match it with the younger guys."
In addition to his NBL dream, the 192cm off-guard believes he can finally add an overdue QBL title to his basketball resume.
New coach Heal agrees and said Jeffries will play a key role in bringing a title to Ipswich.
"I didn't know Ryan before seeing him play in the ISL competition on the Gold Coast recently," Heal said.
"I really liked what I saw, I think he will play a key role for us this season and at 25, he can be a leader of this team.
"It's going to come down to Ryan and how much time he's prepared to put in and how much he can contribute to the team during the season.
"He certainly has NBL ability but he is going to have to make it happen right away.
"I like that fact though because he is hungry to make it and his destiny is in is own hands.
"He can help himself and his team at the same time in the city he grew up in which is exciting."
Jeffries' signing means the first piece in the Ipswich Force line-up puzzle is in place.
With negotiations continuing behind the scenes with other quality players, excitement is building for what may come in season 2012.