Former Wollongong forward Dan Jackson has buried speculation he was cast adrift by the Hawks, insisting he left the club on good terms.
A member of the Hawks for six years, Jackson isn't returning for the 2013-14 season.
The 25-year-old is taking a break from basketball and eventually plans to join his long-time girlfriend and Australian Opals centre Marianna Tolo in France.
Jackson rose through the Illawarra junior ranks and represented the Australian under-19 team in 2007 before signing with the Hawks in the same year.
While he never became a household name, the former AIS scholarship holder was popular among teammates and could always be counted on to help new recruits get settled.
Leaving the club was his decision and he hasn't looked back.
"I'm happy with how it turned out," Jackson said.
"Everyone wants to be a superstar in the league when they start off playing. It didn't turn out that way for me but I've got no regrets about anything.
"I enjoyed the ride and made some really good friends. I've got memories I'll have with me for my whole life."
Jackson's closest supporters believe he didn't receive enough opportunities to cement a regular playing role.
But when the bloke manning your preferred position is club legend and dual Olympian Glen Saville, court time is hard to come by.
"I was behind better players at the time," he said.
"Sav, (Tim) Coenraad, Oscar (Forman) and (Dave) Gruber - there's no shame in playing behind established players like those guys.
"You always hear people from the outside saying 'he can't play', so there's always the haters here and there. The fact of the matter is if anyone else was better, I wouldn't have been able to play over 100 games in the NBL."
Hawks coach Gordon McLeod heaped praise on Jackson and said he worked hard to get the best out of his ability.
"He was a young guy who came through the ranks here and we wanted to make sure he got the recognition for his contributions to the club," he said.
"Jacko did a great job, not only with the NBL team, but also with the Hawks in the Waratah League. His contribution to our team in a number of areas was undeniable, but most people who go to games on the weekends don't see that.
"Within the team dynamic, he was great. He's a very good student of the game, he trained very well and he really helped us get better as a group."
Jackson said he felt privileged to play basketball for a living.
"The best thing about playing team sport is that you get to hang around your best mates all the time," the former Illawarra Sports High student said.
"If you're not working hard and not trying to be a good guy, you're selling yourself short.
"It's such a good group of guys at the Hawks and it makes it easier get along and work hard at practice.
"The community gets behind the team. Wollongong will never have the same money as the other teams, but they'll always have a core of loyal fans who'll always be there no matter what."
Always a quick learner, Jackson might shift his focus to coaching.
"In a perfect world I'd love to jump straight into the coaching ranks with the Hawks, but that's not realistic at this point because I don't have enough experience," he said.
"I want to stay involved in the game in some way because I think I've got a decent basketball brain and I want to put it to use."
The Hawks play their first game of the 2013-14 season on Thursday night away to New Zealand.