After missing the majority of last season through injury, Will Neighbour is back and determined to make up for lost time.

Troubled by a persistent shoulder problem, the British forward’s debut BBL campaign with the Surrey Scorchers came to a premature end last December.

“The injury was affecting my play, ” he recalled.

“I was trying to rehab it but eventually it got to the point where the shoulder kept dislocating and surgery was the only option.”

The subsequent surgery was a success and Neighbour began the long journey of working his way back to fitness with an eye on being back in time for this season.

“I watched some Surrey games [after the surgery] but it was very frustrating not playing,” he said.

“When I could make it, I’d come down but the most important thing was trying to get my shoulder healthy, so most of the time that’s what I was doing.”

In the summer and with the rehab having gone well, Neighbour was invited to the Great Britain Men’s pre-EuroBasket training camp.

While he didn’t make the final cut for EuroBasket qualifying, the training camp had its benefits.

“It was brilliant,” he said of his time with GB.

“There was some really good players there and that’s what sort of kick-started me into the season, playing against a very high level of players and learning some things from them.

“I was competing against them and feeling good, knowing my shoulder is back to where it needs to be.”

“I wasn’t there to make up the numbers, ” added Neighbour, “It was a shot to try and make the team.”

“in my position [GB have] Dan Clark and Kieron Achara at the four, but I went in there and held my own.”

After being cut, Neighbour’s attention turned to getting ready for the new season with Surrey, but he still kept an eye on GB’s progress and was delighted when Joe Prunty’s side made it through to next year’s finals.

“It was amazing that those guys came together and achieved their goal,” he said adding,” a great group of guys, can’t say enough about them.”

“Andrew Lawrence, that’s my guy. I trained with him all summer and I think he had a great series and led the team really well.”

Back with the Scorchers, Will Neighbour is off to a great start to the new season, averaging over 18 points per game in the BBL Championship – more than double what he averaged last year.

“I’m so happy to be back on the court again, and I feel a lot better than I did at the start of last season,” he said.

“If this year’s Will Neighbour played last season’s Will Neighbour he would kill him, so that’s what I feel good about.”

The Scorchers opened up with three straight defeats in in the league, but have made it to the last eight of the BBL Cup and Neighbour is hoping his side can now kick on and enjoy a successful season.

“As a team, I definitely want us to make the play-offs and try to get to a final,” he insisted.

“Personally, I just want to have a solid year, play in every game and prove I’m healthy again, and get back to playing the way people know I can play.”

Pic: Graham Hodges

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