Freddy Webb, Cam Duncan and Kenny Huynh are three Australian players on the Central Maine Community College basketball team this year.

Cam Duncan, Kenny Huynh and Freddy Webb are three Australians living the American Dream.

The three are fulfilling their hoop dreams by playing for the Central Maine Community College men’s basketball team.

“It’s been a dream of mine for a long time,” Webb said. “So when the option started to come on the table, it was without a doubt in my mind that I was going to come, it was just a matter of where.”

From before the time diminutive and bleach-blonde guard Shane Heal hit eight 3-pointers, many from what is now considered Steph Curry-range, had a verbal and physical altercation with Charles Barkley, and told Gary Payton to use some of the $89 million from his recently signed contract to “buy yourself a jump shot,” while playing against the second Dream Team in 1996, Australia has been rising in stature on the world’s basketball scene.

Back then, it was only Luc Longley in the NBA. Now, No. 1 draft picks Ben Simmons and Andrew Bogut, NBA champions Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova, and first-year Boston Celtic Aron Baynes are only a few of the Aussies in the NBA.

At last year’s Summer Olympics, the Australians led the U.S. in the fourth quarter before the Americans prevailed, 88-78. Australia reached the semifinals and placed fourth in the tournament, falling to Spain by one point in the Bronze-medal game.

Down Under in Vacationland

CMCC is taking advantage of the growing basketball power Down Under. Last year, the Mustangs had Duncan and Pietro Badalassi, who led the team in scoring and has moved on to play at University of St Francis in Joliet, Illinois.

Mustangs coach Dave Gonyea found out about Duncan, who is from Bundaberg, through a recruiting website.

Duncan’s aunt told him about Webb, who hails from Darwin. Duncan and Badalassi then helped Gonyea recruit Webb to play in Auburn.

He also visited in April, and seeing the campus and getting a feel for the community played a role in his decision to attend CMCC.

“Another big part of it was just that it’s so professional,” Webb said. “From our light shows, to the way we’re presented, the way we have to present ourselves — our uniforms, our track suits — it’s very professional, and I was very fond of that.”

On another side of the country, in Melbourne — a five-hour plane ride from where Duncan and Webb lived — Huynh heard back after reaching out to Gonyea. He also video-chatted with Badalassi and Duncan.

“After that, I fell in love with this school,” Huynh said. “The environment, how family-oriented it was, and how close everybody was. I did my research around the area, it was very safe, and the program is very successful and welcoming to international students.”

And, it didn’t hurt that the Celtics, his favorite NBA team, are so close.

“One of the reasons I came here is coach was like, ‘It’s only a three-hour drive to Boston,’” Huynh said.

“He knows every NBA player,” Gonyea said with amazement.

Huynh, who stands 5-foot-9, favors undersized point guards such as Chris Paul, Tyler Ulis and former Celtic Isaiah Thomas. He’s also big fan of Simmons because they attended the same high school in Australia, Box Hill Senior Secondary College.

Webb’s favorite player is Bradley Beal. Duncan likes Dirk Nowitzki most.

And, of course, the Australians.

“Just because they made it,” Duncan said.

Team Mates

Huynh said he has friends who told him he might come to the U.S. and lose his accent.

Duncan, Webb and Huynh are roommates, though, which allows them to “speak Australian.”

If anything, they’re rubbing off on the Mustangs.

“We have a lot of slang terms and words we use amongst each other that now the whole team says them,” Duncan said. “Me, especially, I say, like, ‘How’s it going, mate,’ and stuff like that, all the time. And then people from last year and this year, they just picked it up, so now everyone says ‘mate.’”

“Even coach,” Huynh said.

In 16.8 minutes per game last year, Duncan, a 6-foot-3 forward, averaged 3.4 points, the second most of CMCC’s six returning players.

He has been picked as a team captain, along with Zavier Roman, of Belfast, and newcomer Corey David, of Ocala, Florida.

Huynh and Webb, who is listed as 6-0, describe themselves as distributing point guards who can also shoot.

They also bring a firm grasp of fundamentals to CMCC.

“The biggest difference I’ve noticed is back home we rely on IQ so much, basketball IQ, just kind of reading plays,” Webb said. “Whereas, here, kids can rely on their athleticism a lot more than their IQ.”

Another difference for Webb is road games.

“I never really played any away games (in Australia),” he said. “So I’m actually most excited to travel with the team and really be a team outside of this campus — travel on the bus together, eat together, go to war in someone else’s home together. I’m just really excited about those away games as SM, and NHTI the ones that we have to stick together if we want to win.”

Nachos and winter

Heading into his second season, Duncan said he’d make the same decision to play at CMCC if given the chance.

Webb and Huynh also have taken to their new home since arriving in August.

“It’s really been great,” Webb said. “The people have been so incredibly nice, and you don’t’ have to worry about crime or anything like that. And everyone’s been very welcoming.”

They’re amazed by the large food portions in the United States — like the nacho plate at Gippers that Webb couldn’t get through half of, or the buffet at Hunan House of which Huynh said, “In Australia, that would be $50, $60 a head.”

They also tried those huge turkey legs and fried Oreos at the Fryeburg Fair.

“We don’t have turkey in Australia,” Huynh said.

“Yeah, we do,” Duncan said, “but it’s not like here.”

Both Webb and Huynh are fully aware that winter hasn’t hit yet.

It does snow in some parts of Australia — in the mountains, mostly — but there isn’t a winter like Maine’s.

“It’s cold,” Duncan said. “It’s like nothing — we don’t have anything like it (in Australia). It’s completely new, but that’s also a good thing because you gotta get away from your comfort zone. A little bit of cold, it doesn’t kill you. It’s just a little bit uncomfortable.”

Leading the Aussie way

Duncan is in his comfortable zone as a team captain.

“I just do what I always do,” he said. “I talk all the time. It doesn’t matter if I’m captain or play no minutes at all, I’m going to talk. So it’s just the same.”

Webb said Duncan’s guidance has been valuable in his adjustment to living in Maine and playing at the college level.

“I think being with Cam’s been a massive help,” Webb said. “He kind of puts a blueprint out of certain things to expect and how to interpret and how to and how to not react to them, which has been a big help.”

Duncan also has helped guide his American teammates.

“Cam tries to show me all the ropes, how to play in the post,” freshman forward Cody Tozier, from Lincoln Academy, said. “And how much more physical it’s going to be at this level and how I need to get stronger every day. He tries to show everyone the ropes.”

Gonyea said that Badalassi, Duncan, Huynh and Webb are the beginning of what he expects to be a trend at CMCC.

“This is the route I’m going in the future,” Gonyea said. “That’s a pipeline that we’ve opened up that’s going to be very special for us. I’d be surprised if we have less than five to seven Aussies next year.”


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