Great Britain international Zak Wells says he is relishing the extra pressure his new-found status has brought him within the Leeds Force squad.
The 22-year-old Hertfordshire-born centre made his international debut in the summer when Team GB hosted New Zealand at London’s Copper Box.
Since returning to club duty with BBL side Leeds Force, Wells has noticed how team-mates are now regarding him with a greater respect – and are now looking at him to lead by example on the court.
“Playing for Great Britain this year definitely helped me tremendously,” said Wells, who is in his second year with Force after signing from their former National League rivals Hemel.
“It helped develop my confidence and the team are now seeing me as more of a senior figure and looking to me to be a leader, and that’s something I’m relishing.
“Every time I go out on the court I feel I have to prove myself, that I’m worthy of being a GB international, even when I’m on the court for Leeds.”
He has proven as good as his word, helping the new-look Force to two wins from their opening six games, a record that at face value may not suggest enormous strides but is an incremental step in the right direction at the very least.
To catch the attention of the GB selectors and coaches for next summer’s next national squad gathering, Wells knows there can be no let-up in performance as the squad will be chosen on their form during the entire season.
“The pressure is going to be on again this summer to get back into, first of all the camp, and then squad, because with qualification for EuroBasket next summer the competition for places is going to be intense,” he said. “Getting into the GB squad has been a long-term aim, so even to just be involved in the camp this summer was a big step up.
“I wasn’t too sure I’d make the team, so to do so was fantastic.And then to play at the Copper Box in front of 6,500 fans...”
The continued development of the players around him can only help, even as Force embark on a tough road trip to third-placed Worcester Wolves tonight and defending champions Newcastle Eagles on Sunday.
“There’s a great chemistry in the group,” said Wells.
“D’Andre Bullard has come in and is growing with every game and we’re excited about what he can bring to us. Armand Anebo is now back from injury and is a great presence on the court. He leads by example and everyone is stepping up and buying into the team’s strategy.”