Ariel Hukporti took on a pair of Aussie NBA bigs in Melbourne's opening pre-season scrimmage of NBL24.

19 Jul
By Dan Woods for

Photos: Melbourne United Media

Next Star Ariel Hukporti will be like a new signing in NBL24, according to head coach Dean Vickerman, who believes the German centre is primed to take his game to a new level in the upcoming season.

Hukporti missed the entirety of Melbourne’s NBL23 campaign due to a ruptured Achilles tendon suffered at the pre-season Blitz, but with the side’s first full roster pre-season scrimmage under his belt, the difficulties associated with such a horrible injury look to be far behind him.

With guest players Jock Landale and Jack White amongst Hukporti’s direct opponents, the 21-year-old stamped his authority on the workout at different stages of the game.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">Confirmed. Ariel Hukporti is ???? ?‍?<br><br>? via <a href="">@MelbUnited</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; NBL (@NBL) <a href="">July 19, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Although he didn’t participate in the full session, United’s Next Star showcased plenty of his trademark strength and athleticism, with a windmill dunk following a steal a particular highlight.

“When I say new guys, Ariel is one of those guys,” Vickerman said. “He’s been missing for a year, so how’s he going to look against against a Jock Landale where he’s trying to get to?

“Obviously, his wind was something we want to improve on, but we thought he certainly competed at a pretty high level for what he was up against in the early stages of his comeback.”

The run was also the first look at Matthew Dellavedova back in Melbourne colours, following the Boomers representative’s completion of his contract with Sacramento.

Dellavedova was part of United’s squad that was knocked out of the NBL22 semi-finals alongside Hukporti, and he’s praised the shape in which his teammate is in.

“I think this was A’s first hitout five on five, and he was looking good,” Dellavedova said.

“He looks lean, but still strong and explosive. Talking with him he says he’s jumping even higher now which is just a testament to the work he’s been putting in with the staff here.

“The staff here – physios, weight coaches – definitely helped me get back going two years ago, and I feel like I’m in a much better spot than I was two years ago, and I think Big A can say the same.

“I think he’s in for a really good year and we’re all excited for him.”

1920x250 (2)

For early access and updates, stay up to date with the hottest young basketball talent in the world. Sign up below and never miss a play or the next big moment.

By signing up you agree to the NBL Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.