Sharks will sweat on Brian Conklin's decision

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 24/06/2014
Brian Conklin
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
KEY PLAYER: Southland Sharks power forward Brian Conklin.

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Southland Sharks star Brian Conklin isn't willing to say he has played his last game in Invercargill, hinting a third season with the Sharks is a possibility.

The American import's move to Southland last year was a key factor in getting the Sharks to their first National Basketball League title.

Last year was his first professional assignment since finishing college ball in the United States and his efforts for the Sharks, not surprisingly, caught the interest of others.

The Townsville Crocs signed him to play in the Australian National Basketball League where he also impressed, despite the team struggling.

The Sharks were able to get him back for a second season this year and he continues to be one of Southland's trump cards.

His campaign has been hindered by injury but his ability to play consistently well and work hard for his team in tough times has been a major plus for the Zero Fees-sponsored Sharks.

Gaining consistency from year to year in regard to imports is difficult given the nomadic nature of basketballers, but it would surprise if the Sharks organisation doesn't work hard to try and convince Conklin to return for a third year.

The 24-year-old is the ultimate professional in the way he conducts himself on and off the court, something which enhances the reason why Southland would love to retain his services.

Southland played their final home game in front of a record crowd last Friday night against Canterbury and when he asked if it could be the last time Conklin played in Invercargill, he responded:

"It's a long time before we look at that, we're focusing on next weekend up in Nelson and then Canterbury, to get these two wins to go to [the Final Four in Wellington]. That's the focus now and then in the off-season we'll obviously have a conversation with Jill [Bolger, Sharks general manager] and see how everything goes."

Conklin is likely to again attract interest from Australian Basketball League clubs and it seems he is not far away from confirming where to for him after the New Zealand.

"I might have something coming up pretty soon, so stay tuned for that one," he said.

Four of Conklin's Sharks team-mates from the start of the season are now not with the team for various off-court reasons but Conklin believes the side is still very much in a position to push for back-to-back titles.

"You are starting to see patches of where we were last year. Defence intensity is there sometimes and not other times, but offensively I think we are starting to click on all cylinders.

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"We maybe don't have the shooters that we did but we can crash the boards and we have the inside big time."

BRIAN CONKLIN

Age: 24

Home Country: United States

Home Town: Eugene, Oregon

College: Saint Louis (2008-2012)

(Sharks Stats)

● Conklin joined the Sharks in 2013 and has played 29 games to date.

● He has averaged 21.8 points per game for the Sharks.

● He has averaged 9.5 rebounds per game for Southland.

- Fairfax Media

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