Basketball: Leeds’ Hall heads up points per game averages

Leeds Force's Will Hall.

Leeds Force's Will Hall.

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This time last year, Will Hall thought his future as a professional basketball player was over.

The 22-year-old’s time with the Great Britain programme had come to an end because he was no longer eligible for the Under-20s.

His year spent on a basketball scholarship at a preparatory school in Western Massachusetts as a teenager seemed like a lifetime ago.

Even a spell with Reading Rockets in the top flight of the English national pyramid had become a distant memory.

University life had taken over for the young man from Sheffield, and his only basketball outlet was a couple of nights a week at an amateur third division team.

Imagine his delight then, to have not only been given a second chance at a professional career, but to also have grasped that opportunity with both hands. For not only is Hall now an integral part of the Leeds Force team, the forward also boasts the highest points per game average in the entire British Basketball League – a statistic that makes a mockery of the Force’s lowly position.

“When I dropped down a couple of leagues I thought that was it for my professional basketball career,” said Hall, whose career was saved when his old Reading coach Samit Nuruzade, now with Leeds, gave him a shot.

“So I’m just delighted to be playing professionally and doing well.

“This has been quite a jump back up for me from playing in the lower divisions and I’m glad I’ve been able to return to the level I was playing at a couple of years ago.

“I was grateful to get the chance to be honest.”

Hall has a scoring average of 20.3 points over three games, having missed the first three games of Leeds’s inaugural season in the BBL.

It is a return that suggests that homegrown players can prosper and excel in the league, even if Hall was not necessarily a product of Leeds’ impressive youth system.

“I played for the junior Sharks right up to the age of 17 having got into basketball because my father and two older brothers played,” said the South Yorkshireman.

“It all changed when the Sharks went in a different direction and developed a new junior programme.

“After I finished school I applied to prep schools in America to do a scholarship.

“I had to send game tape of me playing for the Junior Sharks and I finally got accepted by a school in Western Massachusetts. That was a fantastic year.”

Now in Leeds, via a spell at Reading and three years at university in London, the next thing to tick off Hall’s wishlist is that elusive first league win for the Force.

And they might not get a better chance than tonight’s game at the Beckett Sports Arena against Surrey United, the team directly above them in the standings with just one win.

“Coming off the game against Newcastle Eagles last week in the Cup, which was always going to be a difficult one, we were quite pleased with how we’d competed and not given in,” said Hall.

“We feel we would have beaten a lesser team, and no disrespect to Surrey, but they’re not Newcastle.

“If we play like we did last week in Newcastle we’ve got a great chance. Put it this way, I’d be disappointed if we came away still searching for that first win.

“I wouldn’t say that adds any pressure because this is the game we would want coming out of the Newcastle game.

“This is the perfect game for us tonight.”

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