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NBL: Clubs start to turn up the heat in free agency
The NBL silly season is in full swing as all clubs jump on board attempting to bolster their squad. While some teams have their core in tact, others are out and about, trying to find the diamond in the rough or paying top dollar for a bonafide star.
Within the competition, history shows us that if you can continue to build around a solid core, keeping morale and continuity at a high. Perth and New Zealand are the best at doing this, with championship banners hanging in the rafters as proof that it works.
2014/15 grand finalists Cairns Taipans have cemented the services of both Stephen Weigh and Alex Loughton for the next three years. The Snakes were one shot away from possibly taking last year's grand final series to a deciding game three, and are therefore keen to bring back the band.
In addition, star import Scottie Wilbekin has reportedly signed a new one year deal if he's NBA dream is once again unsuccessful after a Summer League stint. Wilbekin is expected to play with the Orlando Magic in this year's Summer League before returning to far north Queensland. View image | gettyimages.com Wibekin recently went to Greece to ply in trade in the Greek A1 League. Fortunately for him, his nine game stint was over before the country folded like a pack of cards. In those games, he averaged 8ppg, 2.3rpg and 3.9apg.
Illawarra continued to bolster their squad with captain Oscar Forman coming back for another year. The 33-year old re-signed on a one year deal after having to re-negotiate his contract due to the club entering voluntary administration.
The 36ers have continued their re-signing spree after Anthony Petrie followed Adam Gibson's signature for three more years. 'Peach' will continue to play a vital role for the Sixers, as he has forever improved since playing under head coach Joey Wright. View image | gettyimages.com Finally, Chris Goulding may be playing at a new NBL club and in new colours, however his return to Melbourne was confirmed during the week. His European experience will have made 'Bubbles' even more mature and patient on the floor, while teaming up with new United swingman Todd Blanchfield has created a buzz in the sporting capital.
Making the switch
Players who have already had some form of NBL experience have had the opportunity to start fresh and find a sense of new found freedom in their new environment.
AJ Ogilvy returns to the NBL after a season absence in playing for La Bruixa d'Or Manresa in the Spanish ACB before injury derailed his season. A New South Wales native, Ogilvy took the competition by storm in his first season with the Sydney Kings in 2013/14, leading the NBL in rebounds and blocks per game.
Hawks head coach Rob Beveridge has big hopes for his new club, and currently the Illawarra franchise is looming to being the competition's dark horse.
The Townsville Crocodiles continue to dwindle in terms of players possibly returning, with Steven Markovic heading south to the Sydney Kings. The wily point guard will return to his old stomping ground where he once led the charge in West Sydney Razorbacks colours.
According to Markovic, moving back to NSW was an 'easy choice'.
“It’s always great to have an opportunity to represent the place you grew up, so being from Sydney, I couldn’t be more excited to be back home playing in front of family and friends on what is shaping up to be a great team.” - Markovic explained.
Aussie college returnees
As per NBL.com.au, Jeromie Hill has been announced as the Sydney Kings' latest signing. View image | gettyimages.com A prospect from the University of Texas San Antonio, Hill spent five years (redshirting in 2013/14) and averaged 16 points, 8.1 rebounds throughout his final year after overcoming injury (exclusive interview from November 2014). His outstanding season was rewarded, with Hill being named All-Conference USA First Team.
Hill is keen to get going with his new team, whom he joins in August:
"I believe the Kings are still the premier franchise and I am excited to be a part of the brand. I am looking forward to doing my best to help the Kings reclaim top spot."
With so many great signings staying on, switching clubs and also entering the league, the NBL will be hot property in season 2015/16!
Clubs will now be looking to strengthen their rosters with import signings, which could possibly make or break their team's cohesion.