EXPERIENCE is something Ray Hannett has bucket loads of.
The former Australian and NSW representative has played at the highest levels of the game.
And you can see when he talks at breaks in play the players listen and respect that.
Hannett actually played for Australia while playing in the Shoalhaven – how times have changed.
He was involved in Australian squads as far back as 1974 and then in 1975 was a member of the Australian team that played in the New Zealand Games, which was a tournament held in the Shaky Isles between the Commonwealth Games and as a lead-up to the Olympics.
He was also part of Australian sides that played against visiting teams from America and Europe who played a host of games around the country.
But unfortunately he missed out on an Olympic berth, saying the game and selections for the Olympics was very political back in the ’70s with Victoria dominating the side.
At that stage he was still playing in Shoalhaven under former Kings’ coach Bob Turner.
A lot of people don’t know that it was actually the Shoalhaven Basketball Association that brought the likeable American to Australia and the rest as they say is history.
He was playing in State League then and the Shoalhaven side did quite well with the likes of Turner, who was dynamic player in his own right, Dennis Marshall, Gerry Lee and Phil Lynch.
“It was a pretty awesome team,” Hannett admitted.
Ray was actually a late starter to the game, a champion junior high jumper he didn’t actually take up basketball until he was 16.
“I was living in Wollongong at that stage and was playing a bit of footy for Port Kembla and some cricket, but was right into athletics,” he said.
In fact he was the State high jump champion.
“I started playing some school basketball and it was actually my sister Rhonda who got me into the game, she was playing in a big way and also went on to play for Australia,” he said.
He was spotted by the Illawarra under 18 coach Ted Western, and he joined the Hawks, playing in the 18s and making the first of many State teams over the years.
He then turned out for the Illawarra senior side that included the likes of Adrian Hurler, Alan Jones, John Scott, Bob and Henry Kubbinga and David and Peter Brettell.
Hannett moved to the Shoalhaven after marrying his wife Wendy, turning out for the Tigers, but he was again lured back into Illawarra colours in the early days of the NBL.
“I started with the Hawks in the national league from around 1980-83 when approached by coach Adrian Hurley.
“Adrian approached me and I headed back to the Hawks,” he said.
“They were good days, there was no restriction on imports, you could have as many as you could afford, there were heaps of Americans playing and the competition was tough,” he said.
As well as playing at the highest level Hannett has also tasted success at coaching – he took the first Shoalhaven boys team to qualify for the national club finals away, with the likes of Jeff and Ben Dowdell, the late Alec Bishop, Chris Nation, Jeremy Tucker and his son Brady to name just a few, finishing fifth in the country.
And there must be something about the Hannett name – Ray’s wife Wendy has managed national title winning sides, their eldest daughter Kelly, who is back playing for the Tiger women in State League this year, played for the State and has won a host of WNBL championships with Canberra, second son Toby played for NSW Country and State schools, while youngest son Brady also made NSW and ACT teams.