Dean Vickerman comes home to Melbourne United

Basketball has taken Dean Vickerman all over the world… and now it has brought him home. His journeys have been far and wide, but now he is back home and

Basketball has taken Dean Vickerman all over the world… and now it has brought him home.

His journeys have been far and wide, but now he is back home and ready to take the coaching reins of Melbourne United.

Vickerman grew up in the country town of Warragul and is a proud product of the Basketball Victoria system. He began life on court playing representative basketball at Dandenong, then onto the NBL playing for the Melbourne Tigers.

The transition to coaching came naturally to Vickerman.

“I guess after my NBL (playing) career finished at an early stage, I played a little bit with Frankston and then started to get into coaching,” Vickerman recalled. “Lindsay Gaze gave me a job at Basketball Victoria as Development Officer and then I headed down to Geelong as Coaching Director.”

As they say the rest is history – some very special and accomplished history at that. NBL and Big V titles, along with Coach of the Year accolades in the NZNBL gives you a fair idea of Vickerman’s coaching calibre.

After growing up in Victoria, but often coaching either interstate or overseas, Vickerman is excited to be back where it all began.

“I think everybody has that little part in them,” Vickerman said. “When you move and travel, you want to get home and apply your craft in front of family and friends.”

Having experienced the vocal Melbourne crowds as the enemy in recent years, he is looking forward to having them on his side.

“The atmosphere in Melbourne is outstanding.” Vickerman said. “What they’ve done with putting people in the front row and they’re all just having a great time… the fans are up and participating in the game, not just being spectators – they were living it and I thought that was pretty infectious with the rest of the crowd.”

Vickerman has tasted a huge amount of success in his coaching career to date, including a staggering four NBL titles with New Zealand Breakers in five years. It holds him in good stead coming back to the league as he clearly knows what it takes to win.

He is firmly focused on creating a culture that breeds sustainable success in Melbourne.

“The difference between the teams in the league, when the talent is so equitable and so consistent across the board, it’s what you can do with the coaching staff and what your team can do with its chemistry and culture,” Vickerman said. “We’ll spend a lot of time with our players on having them understand what their role is, the definition of it and how that adjusts over time.

“It’s also about how they can help make a teammate better or how they can help develop a development player – just have a greater impact on the total performance and not just the wins and losses.”

As Melbourne United looks to improve on last year’s efforts, which saw them finish sixth, Vickerman and his staff are in the midst of building a complete roster.

The team has its sights set firmly on local talent.

“The first thing for us is to look at the Victorian talent that’s around the world – be that coming out of the college system or playing within the Victorian SEABL teams.” Vickerman said.

“We’re looking there and I think we’re going to have some exciting announcements over the next month with some Victorian players.”

In further good news for Victorian basketballers, Vickerman explained his intentions to open the door to those aspiring to make it to the NBL.

“This year we want to put on a rookie camp.” Vickerman said. “Where we have the opportunity for young players who are in the development age group, to come and be with us for a couple of days.”

“Hopefully we can get a couple of development players out of that camp and then continue to track their progress.”

He understands and appreciates the process for the young players coming through the ranks today in Victoria, and that’s because he has lived and breathed it himself.

“I think the state program was massive for me as a kid.” Vickerman said. “It was good, it was just a good progression as we kept seeing what the next step was in front of us to try to elevate our game.”

Having played for the Tigers and now coaching United, he appreciates the bold rebranding made by the organisation, highlighting what it means to Victorian basketball.

“When the club became United, I thought it was a really positive move.” Vickerman said.

“Having obviously just the one team in Victoria at the moment, to try to get all those who are playing basketball to have a flagship team to support, a flagship team that after you finish representative commitments with Victoria, there is this pathway if you want to stay in Australia.”

There is no doubting that Dean Vickerman is all in on Victorian basketball. Melbourne United is not just Melbourne’s team, its Victoria’s team and with Vickerman at the helm, basketball in Victoria is set to continue on its upward trajectory.

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