New Zealand Breakers and Tall Blacks basketballer Corey Webster has flown to the United States for a workout with NBA team the New Orleans Pelicans.
The 26-year-old will use the workout to try to secure a training camp invite with New Orleans .
Webster had hardly been home after touring with the Tall Blacks but now he's packed his bags and is off to America after his agent got a call with the opportunity.
He's been invited to work out with available Pelicans players and coaching staff, and while it's nothing more than that at the moment, it's a foot in the door that Webster wants to make the most of.
"This sprung up pretty quick, the coaching staff at New Orleans have invited me to do some workouts for a couple of days or maybe a week. This is a chance to impress in that time and chase an invite to join the Pelicans training camp in October."
Webster said his agent had been communicating with the Pelicans, who said the invitation was based on his form over the past couple of months since coming back from Europe, in particular up against NBA calibre players such as the Australian Boomers' Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova.
"I guess they were watching and I have done enough for this invite, I have to work hard and show them I am worthy of the next step and get an invite to stay for longer."
The Breakers aren't standing in the way of a player chasing an NBA dream with head coach Dean Vickerman fully supportive of Webster's departure, which comes on the eve of the pre-season series with the Sydney Kings beginning in Hamilton on Wednesday.
"This is a great opportunity for Corey and one we wish him all the best with. This club offers a way into full-time professional basketball and gives young players something to aspire to, a pathway into a full-time career. But often that means we are just one step on the pathway and if it is the NBA calling who are we to stand in their way?"
Webster played a key role in the Breakers' championship winning campaign last season and was a standout at the 2014 FIBA World Cup before again starring for the Tall Blacks through their recent campaign, including being named MVP at the Stankovic Cup in China.
But it may well have been the just-completed Oceania Championship that convinced the Pelicans that the 26-year-old was worth a closer look.
Webster agreed that those games against Australia were huge for him.
"Those guys have proved themselves in the NBA and I competed well against them. It was a little bit of a tryout going against those guys, with scouts, agents and NBA teams watching you have to perform in those moments. That is the way I was looking at it too, knowing if I could perform someone was going to see it, they are established and have played in finals, Patty has won a championship, so that was huge for me."
"Nothing has been achieved yet though, this is just a chance to show the coaches what I can do, it is up to me now to put my head down and make the most of the opportunity."
Webster flew out to the States on Saturday night, while the Breakers will continue their pre-season with the Sydney Kings in town for three games in Hamilton, Invercargill and Auckland next week.