Great Britain Senior Men’s forward Myles Hesson has established himself as one of the country’s most exciting basketball talents.
His journey from the courts of Birmingham to Bremerhaven, playing professionally in Europe, will start a new chapter this coming season when he joins French Pro-A side JDA Dijon.
“I settled quite quickly out there,” commented Hesson, reflecting on his time in Germany. “Everybody seems to speak really good English which helped, I learned a little to get by but my coach out their was fluent. You just have to get used to living away from home.”
“I found the basketball to be sharper with the younger players being given a chance to be brought through from the age of 14. They become part of the set-up and are their practising everyday, so I would say they have greater opportunities to progress.”
“When I was young and in primary school I used to play football a lot. I had a basketball hoop in my back-garden. I used to play out there with my two older brothers.”
“It was just something I did for fun. I made a transition from football to basketball. I had asthma as a kid and playing outside I had a lot of asthma attacks. If you’re subbed in football your done for the whole game, in basketball I could take a sub, get my breath, and be put back in.”
“The more I played, the more I began to love the sport.”
From his back-garden, a young Hesson joined the City of Birmingham Basketball where he would play in the National League. They had strong ties with Lordswood Basketball Academy, and from there he was able to develop his game.
“We practiced everyday and it was a really good environment for me to be in,” he recalled. “My studies came first, but basketball was still important to me.”
Under the guidance of Steven Hansell, an ex-GB international, at Birmingham A’s Hesson began to further hone his skills and was soon called up for the National under-20’s side.
“I only attended the trials because it was held at my home court in Birmingham,” the now 25-year-old admitted. “The coach Tim Lewis, liked what I had to offer and to my surprise I made the GB U20s team. I wasn’t really a standout player for them, I was just solid.”
“I really started to develop there and make the transition from a National league player to a National team player. My education enabled me to further my development off court. I did a BTEC in Sport whilst in Harborne, Birmingham, gaining a distinction.”
Like most young talented British basketball athletes the dream of playing in United States of America was very much an ambition but NCAA rules at the time had rendered the opportunity a non-starter.
“All I wanted to do was go to play in the college system in America. It was heart-breaking not to, but I bounced back from that road closing and ended up turning professional through another route.”
“I actually started University in Wolverhampton, which enabled me to practice and work hard in my basketball, but I ended up taking a scholarship at the University of East London who were tied into the Essex Pirates.”
At the age of 18, Hesson’s Pirates career was cut short after just eleven games when he would pick up an ankle injury that would rule him out for the season. However, Hesson had done enough to impress in those early games and he would join the Mersey Tigers the next season, remaining in the BBL.
The Tigers had been a fairly successful side but with sponsors withdrawing the team folded the following season, leaving Hesson looking for a new club.
“After that I went to Germany to Weissenhorn in the Pro-B, who were linked to their German BBL side Ratiopharm,” Hesson said. “I tried to practice with them as much as I could which put me in a position to be called up to their first team. I played 14 games for them as it was later on in the year.”
“I was in the GB Futures team in 2012, and I got a call-up due to an injury to go out to Houston to train with the Senior side.
“My debut was in a friendly against Nigeria – it was an unforgettable milestone for me and an incredible experience playing alongside Luol Deng, Pops Mensu-Bonsu and Joel Freeland. Although I missed out on the Olympics, it was great for my confidence.”
Hesson once again bounced back to make his mark and returned to Germany the following season where he would later catch the attention of German BBL side Bremerhaven.
“In 2013-14, I played in the Pro-A, again learning and trying to prove myself at Giessen 46ers. I was named the forward of the year, making the second round of the playoffs. I just had a really good season leading my team in points and rebounds. It was a really good experience for me.”
“I would work out on my own trying to improve little pieces each day to develop my skill-set. Each coach I have worked with has added something different to my game, I just try to keep getting better each year to keep progressing.
“The hard work really did pay off for both my club and the National team, the following summer it earned me a starting place (at EuroBasket 2013). I finished second in points and rebounds for the team. The experience of the Championships and playing against that level has really helped to improve my game further.”
Once again, Hesson returned to Germany, but this time with Beko-BBL side Bremerhaven were he would impress with 4.3 rebounds per game, averaging 12.2 points.
“The coach at Bremerhaven had a style of play that was a lot more about attacking the basket first, and shooting second. It helped me with my shooting percentage as I took better shots, making better decisions.”
Hesson has risen through each tier in the German professional game and will face a new challenge next year as he heads to France to play for Pro-A side JDA Dijon. Again, the focus for Hesson will be on continual development of his own game and being successful with the team.
“My main role at Dijon will be to play a variant on my role last year, I’ll play more centrally rather than on the wings, which I’ll enjoy. I’ll be able to test myself man for man. Usually I’ll be up against taller, but a bit slower, players, so it’s going to be a good isolation for me to play.”
“I tell the younger players not to think that they have to do it overnight. It isn’t the end of the world to play for second or third division sides. They are still good leagues and give you an opportunity to develop over your career.”
Check out Hesson in action at the recent Midnight Madness qualifier, in Birmingham:
Credit: Thanks to Peter Simmons for editorial and image.
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