Adam Ballinger returns to Wollongong Hawks

Adam Ballinger plays for the Hawks at the WEC in 2005. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

Adam Ballinger plays for the Hawks at the WEC in 2005. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

Adam Ballinger in action against Perth last year. Picture: MICK CONNOLLY

Adam Ballinger in action against Perth last year. Picture: MICK CONNOLLY

BASKETBALL

Former Wollongong Hawks import Adam Ballinger is confident age won’t be an issue in his surprise return to the club.

Ballinger became the sixth player signed by the Hawks for the 2014-15 NBL season after being released by Melbourne United a month ago.

The 35-year-old naturalised Aussie had a year remaining on his contract with Melbourne and was surprised to learn he wasn’t part of the club’s plans for next season.

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Ballinger, who boasts one of the league’s all-time picture-perfect jump-shots, believes he still has a place in the NBL.

‘‘I’ve got plenty to offer,’’ he said.

‘‘I’m healthy, I’ve got no injuries. I’m happy to still be playing basketball because that’s what I do. I’m looking forward to coming back and settling into Wollongong.

‘‘I’ve long been a fan of what [coach] Gordie [McLeod] does, the way he coaches and the way the team plays. I think I’ll fit in very well with the style of play. You never know until you get there, but we’re looking forward to it and it should be an easy transition.’’

Ballinger spent three seasons with Wollongong from 2005-07, averaging 18.7 points and making 53.7 per cent of his shot attempts.

He averaged 21 points at 58 per cent in his final season with the club and was part of the Wollongong team which reached the championship series against Sydney in 2005.

Born in Indiana, he was a member of the Michigan State University team which played in three NCAA final four tournaments.

Known around the NBL by his nickname ‘Balls’, he played five seasons with Adelaide after leaving the Hawks and spent the past two years with Melbourne.

Ballinger and wife Bianca are looking forward to giving their three young children a taste of life on the coast.

‘‘We’re definitely happy to be coming back, and because it’s Wollongong it makes a huge difference,’’ the 205cm forward said.

‘‘It was quite a big shock [to be released]. We thought we were going to be [in Melbourne] for another year and that didn’t work out, so we had to decide what we wanted to do. The Wollongong opportunity came up and that made the decision pretty easy.

‘‘It is a little weird to be coming back. You never really think about where you’ll be next. I didn’t think we would come back, but every time we go back for games it’s just such a nice place to live, especially now with the family. It has to be the best place to play in the NBL family-wise.’’

Ballinger’s signing bolsters Wollongong’s frontcourt for next season. Free agent guard Tyson Demos is expected to be re-signed by the Hawks this week.

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