Versatile forward Xavier Cooks is headed back to Europe, with the 6’8 versatile forward signing a new 1-year deal with French side SIG Strasbourg. He joins fellow Australians Angus Brandt (Italy) and Cameron Bairstow (Lithuania) as signing new deals to play in Europe for the 2019/20 season.
Their signings will see them join Jock Landale (Lithuania), Mangok Mathiang (Turkey), Brock Motum (Spain) and Keanu Pinder (Poland) for next season.
Cooks, who played with s.Oliver Würzburg in Germany last season, enjoyed stellar first year as a professional across both the Bundesliga and FIBA Europe Cups before also performing well in the NBA Summer League with the Phoenix Suns.
🚨 ALERTE RECRUTEMENT 🚨
L’australien Xavier Cooks s’ajoute au roster de la saison 2019/2020.
Welcome to Strasbourg @xaviercooks9 ! 😉
▶️ https://t.co/uZVgM7DAi8 pic.twitter.com/IAG6lvw8gP— SIG Strasbourg (@sigstrasbourg) July 25, 2019
Cooks averaged an impressive 11.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1 steal per game in the FIBA Europe Cup while shooting better than 60.2% from inside the arc and 32.6% from beyond it. He backed that up with 11.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game in the German league, shooting an even better 60.9% from two-point range and an excellent 45.1% from long-range.
With the Suns across three Summer League games, Cooks averaged 3.3 points, 1.7 assists and 2.7 assists in 15.3 minutes per game. His best outing came against China in a big win, posting 8 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steals in 18 minutes.
Cooks was also recently included in the Australian Boomers squad of 18 in preparation for the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. He further added in the interview with Mallis that he was excited for the opportunity.
“To be honest, I am still honoured to be in the squad,” Cooks said. “Our team is unbelievably talented and to be named in the same list as those guys, I was super stoked.
“My nerves get a little bit rattled thinking about Team USA and all those guys, but our Australian team is the next best thing.”
Strasbourg who added Australians David Andersen and Nathan Sobey to their roster last season following the conclusion of the NBL season, managed to sneak into the 2018/19 season playoffs before bowing out in the quarter-finals without a win.
Former NBA player Cameron Bairstow is set to join Jock Landale in Lithuania, inking a 1-year deal with club Lietuvos Rytas, a club that has a long history in rolling out Australian players with Ben Madgen the last to do so..
Following his stint in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls and then the Australian Olympic team in 2016, Bairstow has been plagued by injury. Yet he made a successful return during the recent NBL season with the Brisbane Bullets, providing 11.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game in starting all 29 games played.
Lietuvos Rytas will once again feature in the EuroCup after making the Top 16 last season, while they lost the Lithuanian league championship to Landale’s new club Zalgiris Kaunas. It is clear that his new club has ambition to climb higher next season with the addition of Bairstow to their roster.
“Bairstow is a really capable basketball player who to like to be physical in the paint, but at the same time, he is dangerous away from the basket, even from the three-point line,” Rytas head coach Dainius Adomaitis said. “He will give our team additional options on offense. He is an experienced player who defended his country at the Olympics, but still has things to prove on a basketball court. I am sure he will come to Vilnius ready to work hard and help us win.”
Rounding out a trio of big man signings is Angus Brandt, with the 6’10 centre signing a 1-year deal with Italian club Pistoia.
Currently playing in the Chinese Basketball Association with Wuhan, will commence his new contract at the conclusion of his playing duties. Brandt averaged 8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game for the Perth Wildcats’ run to the 2019 championship.
The big man has some experience in playing in Europe, turning out late in the season for Neptunas Klaipeda in Lithuania back in 2016, finishing their LKL campaign as championship runners-up. He also has been a regular in suiting up for the Australian Boomers throughout their 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifying campaign, providing 7.4 points, 4.7 rebounds on 15.7 minutes across 7 games played.
“We are talking about an athlete with great international experience,” outlined head coach Michele Carrea. “In terms of characteristics, Brandt is perfectly in line with the type of player we are looking for: aggressive, solid in defense and dynamic in attack, who knows how to take advantage of their body.”
Pistoia finished the 2018/19 Italian Serie A season in second last place and have their work cut out for them to climb up the standings. With a proven international big man now on their roster, expectations for the season ahead will be high.