Odhrán Eastwood is one of the only players I remember during my first summer coaching in Queen’s Basketball Club’s annual camp. He was 7 years old. Today, Odhrán is competing for a spot on the Irish U16 team for the 2013 Euro Championships. He is without question the most talented player on the Queen’s U16A team. Odhrán’s determination to succeed as a basketball player, his commitment to his team and his willingness to learn from his coaches (currently, the experienced Adrian Fulton and the energetic Gavin Garland) is why we, The Courtside Collective, believe he is one of the best point guards in Northern Ireland.
It was 2004 and I was given my team-list for camp, which read: Squirrels. As you can probably guess, this squad wasn’t an U16, u14 or even an u12 team: it was under 10! I wanted to make sure all of these young players left camp with an enthusiasm for basketball while maybe developing a little bit of ‘touch’ and a basic understanding of the fundamentals: shooting/passing/dribbling/defence. From the first day of camp it was obvious that one player, who happen to be the youngest on the team, was two steps ahead of his peers.
Several years on from that camp, Odhrán Eastwood is growing up to be a tremendous athlete: representing Queen’s Basketball Club at U16A while also playing for his school team, the reputable St Malachy’s College Belfast. He was recognised as the MVP of his club team lat year and plays an integral part on the St Malachy’s U16 team, who continue to advance in the All-Ireland U16 schools’ competition.
Each time I get a chance to see Odhrán in action, I am reminded of how fun he is to watch. He loves to run. [Who doesn’t want to watch fast-paced, up and down basketball? It’s the best type of hoops!] At every opportunity, he is charging down the middle of the floor attacking the defence at their most vulnerable, all the while analysing his options: pass ahead to a guard for a lay-up, attack the hoop or drive and kick. His teammates know that when they are on the floor alongside Odhrán, he will find them – if they run.
Basketball is not Odhrán’s only forte; he is also competing at a high level on the soccer and Gaelic football pitch. Coach Adrian Fulton hopes that Odhrán continues to invest in basketball:
The young PG recognises that success will only come as result of hard-work and perseverance. Speaking with Odhrán, his ambitions are obvious – he wants to play at the highest level he can, hoping to follow in the footsteps of Paul Dick, Ben Horner and Adrian Fulton by both representing Ireland and playing in the U.S. I caught up with Odhrán to ask him a few questions about who he thinks is the best player, his role-models are and what he hopes to achieve in the future:
What is your favourite thing about basketball?
Just playing a lot. I really like playing in big games because of what’s at stake. I love playing at a high level because I know that it will help improve my game. Also, playing with older players in Queen’s [Basketball Club] and St Malachy’s [College Belfast] is really good because you learn so much from them.
Who inspires you?
I’d have to say Adrian Fulton and Paul Dick because they have all played basketball at the international level. Paul went to St. Malachy’s and then went to America which shows me that it can be done. Mr Fulton has played internationally and is now my coach so I know that anything he tells me is worth listening to! Of course all my coaches have inspired me in some way. Gavin Garland, Fergus Donnelly and others are all big inspirations too!
What is your favourite thing to do on the court?
Run the fast break! My speed is probably one of my strengths and I try to use it so my team gains an advantage. I’ll try and push the ball up the floor so my teammates or I can get easy lay-ups in transition.
Who is your favourite player ever to come from Northern Ireland?
Not sure about this one. I’d probably have to say… Mr Fulton or Gavin, Garland because they are both guards and small like me – but don’t tell them I said that! [Editor: Don’t worry Odhrán: I’m sure they know their height] Mr Fulton has played internationally, which I want to do, and I know I can learn from both him and Gavin. Keelan Cairns, Paul Dick, Ben Horner are there also because they have played [or are playing] in America and they are from Belfast, which has shown me that playing overseas in the states is a possibility!
Who do you most like having on your team?
Shooters who can run the floor because I think that if I use my speed and push the ball up court, I can get my teammates easy lay-ups. If we can’t get a quick bucket then I’ll try to get the shooters a good shot in the offense. It’s always good to play with big players as well who rebound.
What are your future goals?
Hopefully, to be selected for the Irish team for the 2013 Euros! [Editor: Odhrán is currently on a panel of 18 for the Irish U16 team]. I would like to play in America like Ben and Paul, but that’s way down the line! I’ll keep playing no matter what happens.
The Courtside Collective wish Odhrán all the best in his aspirations to represent Ireland and, like Adrian Fulton, we hope he continues to invest in becoming a better basketball player.
Coming soon: This week, and next, we will be presenting a feature on the two teams from Belfast, St Malachy’s College & St Mary’s CBS, who will be competing for All-Ireland Schools’ Championships in the coming month.
Over the course of the next few months, I will be interviewing some of the best point guard’s in Northern Ireland, as chosen by the team at The Courtside Collective. We will be focusing on PG’s from throughout the province and across the different leagues, including (but not limited to) U13 Girls, U16 Boys (inc. the development league), the Women’s League, Men’s Premier League and even some of the legends of Northern Ireland playmakers.
Who do you think should feature in The Courtside Collective’s best PG’s? What would you like us to ask them? We welcome any and all your suggestions (even if they are ridiculous). Use comment section below or click here to contact our team directly.