BEST laid plans are often best laid to rest. That's a lesson Hawks young-gun Sam Froling has learned over the last six months.
Froling enjoyed a stellar, if injury-affected, rookie campaign in the NBL culminating in his first Boomers call-up before his Hawks contract was voided as the club headed for liquidation.
That was before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, scuppering plans to head to the US for pre-Draft workouts and a stint with Dandenong in the NBL1. It was a frustrating turn, but the 20-year-old has looked for silver linings.
"It was frustrating at first, I was really excited to go to Melbourne and work with Chris Anstey and prepare for the NBA Draft stuff," Froling said.
"When neither of those things went ahead it was disappointing but there was nothing I could do about it. I let just it go, I went home to Townsville with the family and it was probably the first time we'd all been together since 2015.
"I played one-on-one with my brother [Harry] every day, beat up on him a little bit. He beat up on me a bit too, I've got my body in the best shape it's ever been so it's worked out as a good little break."
Being a generally laidback character helps, but he admits he may well have been kicking stones had it occurred a year or two earlier.
He still harbours the same NBA ambitions, but experience had taught him to roll with things.
"I think having played in this league now, and experiencing more, I've realised it doesn't have to happen straight away," he said.
"I've kind of taken the pressure of time off myself, or thinking that I need to get it done in a year or two. That was kind of my mindset when I first left college.
"I've realised now that I can just keep working hard, keep getting better and it'll happen when it happens.
"I'm not going to become an NBA player in three or four months, it's a build-up of time and experience. I look at Joe Ingles, he didn't make it until he was 28-29. Every day I'm preparing myself for it and getting better. When it comes it comes and I'm just enjoying the journey."
He can think of no better man than new coach Brian Goorjian to get him there, with the signing of the mastercoach the clincher in bringing him back to the Hawks under new ownership post-liquidation.
"It was my first pro contract so [liquidation] was certainly a weird process for me," he said.
"I wasn't sure what was happening or what to do. I really wanted to come back but we didn't know who the coach was going to be, who'd own the club, is there even going to be a [Hawks] club.
"I started thinking about the prospect of going elsewhere, we had started looking at some other clubs, but then Goorj was announced a week or two before free agency. He coached Dad in his second year in the NBL, he made Chris Anstey the player he is.
"They're the people I really look up to and they had nothing but praise for Goorj. I just thought 'if he could get them where they got, I'm sure he can do the same for me'."
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Bringing the winningest coach in NBL history naturally brings a winning mentality and Froling says he's definitely looking to add a long-awaited second championship to the Hawks trophy cabinet.
"My mindset is always to win, I hate losing," Froling said.
"I feel if you're a competitor you should hate losing and everyone should have the mindset of winning a championship.
"We're going to be coming at it that way, let's win. We're going to building each day in practice, building every game to get better and better and bring another championship back to Wollongong."