This season, the Notre Dame College men’s basketball program will be introducing many new faces.
The fresh flock of Falcons includes six freshmen that are practicing right now, preparing for the start of the season in November. One of the first-year players is a 6’6” center from Adelaide, South Australia.
The coaching staff said they want to find talent and sometimes that means looking outside of the United States. But for the international students, the transition from one country to the other can be difficult.
On the court and off, it is a change of pace for Oliver “Ollie” Megins. However, Megins said he is taking the move in stride as he brought his love for the game of basketball along with him.
The biggest help in making the change has been the connections Megins made to the college community before coming here, including talking with Tim Koenig, head coach of the men’s basketball program, and Tim Baab, an assistant coach, who worked together to bring Megins onto the team.
“The coaches were the biggest factor (in coming to Notre Dame),” Megins said. “I liked the coaches and their philosophy of the team.”
The coaches contacted Megins for six months via email. Following that, they had a conference call with him and found that he was very interested in the school.
“Ollie is interested in studying education,” Koenig said. “With our teaching program at NDC, it was a good fit.”
In terms of culture, the two countries are “pretty similar,” according to Megins. But the way a person goes to college in Australia is unlike that in America.
“School is different at home than it is here,” Megins said. “In Australia after high school, we get a job or we go to the University, or Uni, but we live at home.”
In addition to a few differences in language, like the word for university, the biggest adjustment between Australia and America for Megins thus far has been the distance from home.
He said with his parents a long way away, he’s had to learn to ask other people to help him.
“I have to rely on myself being so far from home,” Megins said. “The coaches have been giving me support off the court and academically.”
But Megins said he has no trouble learning the game the Falcons are going to play this season because it is similar to basketball in his homeland.
“He’s tall and could shoot inside and outside,” Baab said. “We were looking for a tall player who could move and run the floor.”
But on the hardwood, Megins, a talented big man with a soft touch, has spotted one adjustment that he will have to make in the upcoming season.
“The biggest challenge is the athleticism players have in America,” he said. “We don’t have as many athletes at home.”
Megins said he relied on photos and movies of America to get a feel for the place where he was moving. And he took a big leap in coming to college here without first coming for a visit.
“I did not make a visit to Notre Dame,” he said, “I saw pictures of the campus and loved it.”
But he is already starting to feel at home on the team, in class and in the country.
“I’m sure I’ll settle in quickly,” he said.