Big hopes for the future, says basketball star
College basketball teams across the country are gearing up for the season. This is true for the UALR Trojans, as well. In an SBC preseason poll, the UALR Men’s basketball team is predicted to finish sixth in the conference. Senior William Neighbour earned Preseason Second Team All-Sun Belt Conference honors heading into this season.
Neighbour, a forward/center for the team, has led UALR in scoring the past two years. His rebounding average ranked fifth in the SBC and he had the second highest single-season boards total at UALR since Rashad Jones-Jennings in 2006-07 season.
Neighbour said he is very proud of his championship at UALR. The team won the SBC Tournament Championship in 2011. He is also proud to have been nominated a few times for Sun Belt player of the week and for pursuing education in another country.
“Coming all the way from England, being out here on my own and getting my degree…I’m pretty excited about that,” said Neighbour, a criminal justice major and a native of Greyshott, England.
Neighbour, who won a national championship in high school and represented Britain in international competition, said there are few differences in college basketball in the United States and in England.
“It’s much bigger over here,” Neighbour said. “It’s on TV over here and it means so much to people.”
Winning the Sun Belt championship and making it to the NCAA Tournament are two of Neighbour’s goals. The Kobe Bryant and L.A. Lakers fan said he hopes to play well this year and also hopes to play in the NBA someday. Neighbour said he needs to maintain not only performances on the court, but also grades in school. “[If] it’s what you want to do, you’ll find a way,” said Neighbour.
Neighbour thinks that UALR’s basketball head coach Steve Shields, along with his three assistant coaches are experienced and knowledgable in helping and giving advice to players. Neighbour considers assistant coach Charles Cunningham like a father to him. He said he has good relationship with the other teammates as well. “They are overall funny guys, we get along pretty well,” said Neighbour.
His journey in basketball dates back to when he was 12 years old. It was his brother who inspired him. “He (Neighbour’s brother) came home and we started playing one day in the backyard and I just enjoyed it and I just kept playing it,” Neighbour said.
Although basketball is his favorite sport, Neighbour said he enjoys playing many sports. He said he likes to play golf, tennis, soccer (football in England), and chess. Neighbour said, “I’m good at chess. I like to play chess.”
The 6-foot-10-inch player said he comes from an athletic family. His father was a tennis player and coach, his mother was a gymnast and a trampolinist, and his brother plays soccer in Australia.
As an international student, he said he often misses home. “Just the family, Christmas time with the family, and I really miss my mom’s cooking,” Neighbour said.
UALR Men’s Basketball Team begins its 2013-14 season on Monday, Nov. 11 against North Florida.