By Elliott Trotman
Cornwall has two Rugby World Cup winners and an Olympic gold medalist but the thought of an NBA champion… surely not!
Whilst Jack Nowell could be considered Cornwall’s number one sporting superstar in recent times, basketball sensation Matthew Marsh is creating his own legacy. The Penryn native signed for ASVEL Basket of France recently on a two-year deal. The French side (who play in the top division and whose president is four-time NBA champion Tony Parker) acquired Marsh from Barcelona’s youth side.
“My ultimate goal is to play within the NBA”
The 6ft11 eighteen year old certainly knew from a young age that basketball suited him. Unsurprisingly, he was able to dunk when he was merely eleven years old! Speaking on his early years of sport, Marsh said:
“I had a passion for all sport from a very early age. I played anything I could from rugby and football, to swimming and athletics, I just loved to compete.”
Following the stereotype of tall people playing basketball, Matt and his brothers started watching highlights and began playing the sport themselves.
“My elder brother Samuel initially took the most interest and with that myself and my older brother Oscar joined in,” Marsh said. “Through playing against each other we discovered our natural skill and physical attributes solidifying our liking for the game together.”
“I’ve fulfilled so many goals and exceeded so many expectations, but that doesn’t mean I’m satisfied.”
From here Matt went on to join his local team, understand the game better and develop his skills further.
Though superstars like Lebron James and Kevin Durant are global names, the number of boys and girls playing basketball in the UK is significantly smaller than football and rugby, especially in Cornwall. In terms of talent, the pool coming from the United Kingdom is relatively weak in comparison to its European counterparts. However, Matt hopes the recent documentary of ‘The Last Dance’ will inspire more ballers to chase their dreams from the UK.
“The Last Dance was an excellent series, it really portrayed basketball in its best light, through following the story of arguably the greatest player of all time in Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
“The series was incredibly inspiring, you were able to see Jordan’s progression and what can be achieved through hard work, dedication and getting through adversity. Furthermore, it showed how sport can really inspire and bring a huge number of people together creating moments in history remembered by millions!
“I believe the show reflected the true value of the sport and hopefully it inspired the next generation to try basketball for themselves.”
Certainly, Matt himself has been inspired by the show – and what better time to be signing a professional contract for a top European team? Yet this is not the end goal. For Matt, the NBA remains the full focus. Speaking on this, he said:
“My ultimate goal is to play within the NBA, however, throughout my career so far I’ve set myself smaller goals with a clear vision of what I want to achieve. Personally, I follow the idea of being the best you can possibly be and fulfilling your maximum potential on and off the court every day to make your dream a reality.
“Right now, I am playing the highest level of basketball an 18-year-old kid can play in the world, I’ve fulfilled so many goals and exceeded so many expectations, but that doesn’t mean I’m satisfied.
“I am extremely proud of how far I’ve come, but there’s a lot more to learn and achieve, that’s what drives me every day!”
More importantly, Matt has a burning desire to be an example for other athletes from Cornwall to work hard if they want to achieve their goals.
“I’d like to think that my journey can inspire the next generation of basketball players or sporting talent within Cornwall and the South West. Being a local lad from Cornwall, a county where there is very little basketball, hopefully shows others what you can do through sacrifice.
“I think it’s very important for Cornish talent to be noticed, special talents can often go under the radar and a lack of praise or recognition can be demotivating. Therefore, seeing people like myself go out and achieve goals shows the possibilities always there.”
The sky is the limit for young Matthew Marsh, don’t be surprised if you hear his name in next year’s NBA Draft. Cornwall can certainly be excited for its next generation of sporting talent!