Why Ipswich's international sportsman happy to be home
APART from his family and friends, Ipswich's international basketballer Matt Hodgson missed the "amazing'' Queensland weather and relaxed lifestyle most during nearly a decade on the road.
However, the Australian Boomers centre can spend more time in his city of birth having recently signed with the Brisbane Bullets.
After an extended stint in the United States and three National Basketball League seasons with the Adelaide 36ers, Hodgson is finally back in familiar territory.
"The last nine years, I haven't actually been in Queensland for more than two weeks at a time so it's good,'' Hodgson, 27, said.
"I'm really excited about coming home, how good the weather is up here.''
Buoyed by additional fitness and rehabilitation work on his right knee, the former Silkstone State School and Ipswich Grammar student is in a happy place.
"I can go back and see mum and dad once a week in Ipswich and it's good to be closer to home,'' he said.
"I love it in Ipswich. It's really nice and laidback and it's easygoing. That's probably what I've missed.''
However, while relocating in Brisbane gives him easier access to Ipswich, Hodgson is still serious about his basketball career.
He's focused on being involved in the NBL pre-season with the Bullets, where he can team up with Australian coach Andrej Lemanis.
"We don't have our import yet but we have everyone else,'' he said.
"We're just doing the best with the numbers that we kind of have at the moment. Just really getting stuck into pre-season mode.''
Hodgson averaged 4.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game for a 36ers side that reached last season's NBL grand final.
Having shared in Adelaide's last season success, he still enjoys the challenges presented in the NBL.
"It's a great league with the imports we are getting; it's a very tough league to play in,'' Hodgson said.
"For me in the NBL, I've just been able to dominate with my defensive input . . . and to control the paint on both ends of the floor. That's going to be my main role for this season.''
Hodgson said the opportunity to play for the Bullets was a combination of wanting to be closer to home while furthering his career with Lemanis and the Bullets.
He still has high hopes of one day playing in the NBA.
Recovering from knee surgery, the 211cm centre wasn't part of the Australian Boomers team involved in the recent brawl saga in The Philippines.
However, he's keen to reunite with his Australian teammates in future campaigns including the next stage of World Cup qualifiers.
Hodgson shared in the Boomers' FIBA Asia Cup gold medal-winning success last year in Lebanon.
He rates that a highlight, being his first Boomers tour.
He's also enjoyed sharing in last year's minor premiership success of the 36ers in the NBL. He played an important role helping Adelaide reach the grand final.
But it was in Ipswich more than a decade ago where his basketball career flourished after first playing rugby league and soccer at Silkstone State School.
He said he loved playing his first term of basketball on the Silkstone courts.
Aged 14, the former Booval student began his dramatic rise in basketball at Ipswich Grammar, switching from Aussie rules because he learnt he could get a college degree playing basketball.
After securing an Australian Institute of Sport scholarship in 2009, he was selected in the Australian under-19 team and never looked back becoming a freshman at Southern Utah University in 2009/10. He later transferred to St Mary's College with the Gaels in California.
As he rose up the ladder, Hodgson regularly accepted invitations to return to schools like Silkstone to address the kids.
With the Bullets, Hodgson will no doubt inspire another generation of young players.
The Bullets launch the new NBL season on October 11, playing their first game in New Zealand.