Reformed Webster eager to repay his mentors
Breakers veteran CJ Bruton believes his bad-boy, back-court mate Corey Webster will bounce back from his year-long suspension and emerge as a key player in the club's quest for a title threepeat.
Bruton stuck by the 23-year-old Tall Black even when he had his contract torn up at the club after being banned for 12 months for a second drugs infraction. Now Webster has been reinstated for the 2012-13 campaign and last season's finals MVP predicts big things from him.
Webster was on Friday confirmed as the 10th, and final, fully contracted Breaker as they seek to become just the second club in Australian NBL history to win three consecutive titles.
He faced the media at the club looking in the shape of his life after two months training in China under former Australian coach Brian Goorjian. Bruton helped arrange the stint for Webster, and said all indications were he had returned ready to make an immediate impact.
“Goorj came back with glowing reports about this kid,” Bruton told Sunday News. “I've never seen him in the shape he is in now in all the time I've been in New Zealand. That shows how hard he's worked while he's been away.
“He's done all the right things. When you're a kid you're going to make mistakes and going to get slapped around. Now everyone's waiting to see if he's going to do right. I told him ‘you're your own man, this is your chance to prove yourself'.
“In my mind he's the best scorer New Zealand has outside of Kirk Penney. But he's never got to prove that. We know what he can give us, and now's his chance to show the public and the people who have seen him play for many years that he can be that player.”
Webster said he owed Bruton plenty after the veteran Australian stood by him during a testing year spent reflecting on his mistakes.
“He took me under his wing ever since he got here, and it was great he didn't just leave me in the dirt when this happened,” Webster said.
“He was always there for me, giving me advice. He set up the China opportunity with the Breakers, and I owe a lot of thanks to him. I idolised him when I was a youngster and it's awesome to be part of the same team as him.”
Webster vowed he had learned his lessons, made the necessary changes in his life and was intent on repaying the faith of the club.
“I know not many people have this chance again. I'm so grateful that they have faith, and that they've seen the changes I've made. The Breakers is where I want to be. This my home town, I feel part of the family and I feel like I owe them a lot. ”
The Breakers have a pre-season series against Wollongong in Christchurch, Dunedin and Hamilton on September 11, 13 and 15 before opening the regular season on October 5 against the Perth Wildcats in Auckland.