NBL expansion side South East Melbourne Phoenix have secured the prized signature of Australian forward Mitch Creek as their marquee first signing.
Currently starring for the Long Island Nets in the NBA G League, Creek has been an NBL mainstay with the Adelaide 36ers since 2010 and a regular feature of the Australian Boomers national team since the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Creek is a 197 game veteran, who also has recent playing experience in Germany with s.Oliver Würzburg before moving to the US to pursue his NBA ambitions. An Adelaide fan favourite, Creek's NBA aspirations saw his relationship with the 36ers sour to the point of no return when his former club seeking compensation for his possible move to the NBA. Creek has made no secret of his disgust with how the 36ers front office staff handled the situation, vowing never to return.
Born in Horsham, Victoria, Creek is however looking forward to returning to his home state and a league he considers one of the best in the world.
“It’s great to be back in the NBL which I think is in the top three leagues in the world," said Creek in the official release.
“To be back in my home state is really cool. I see the potential we have at Phoenix and it gives me goosebumps. To be part of a new franchise, there are so many positives for me. I can see myself building a career and a future in something that’s bigger than basketball.
“We’re going to have our backs against the wall, we’re the new team and I can’t wait to get started and build a huge rivalry with Melbourne United in the heartland of basketball.”
Creek has been an undisputed leader on and off the court for the Nets in the G League, averaging an impressive 14.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. While his performances have certainly garnered attention, they have unfortunately not yet translated to an NBA contract.
Phoenix General Manager Tommy Greer was thrilled to announce Creek as the first player signed to his new team.
“Mitch is without doubt one of the best Australian players outside of the NBA and we are thrilled to sign him as our first marquee player.
“He is not only a very talented player but will bring strong leadership skills and is someone we can build a roster around as we prepare to take to the floor next season. We have said we would be aggressive in our pursuit of players and we look forward to making more major announcements about our roster in 2019.”
Inaugural Phoenix Head Coach Simon Mitchell was excited about the opportunity presented in building a team around such a quality local player.
“Mitch is someone I have long admired from the opposition bench. His toughness and love for the contest are infectious and that’s a wonderful foundation to build upon.”
While Creek is the first player signed by the Phoenix, Mitchell and Greer are expected to sign some more big-name Australian talent over coming months. A host of other overseas based players are expected to be on their shopping list, headlined by former Saint Mary's standout centre Jock Landale who is starring for Partizan Belgrade in the EuroCup and Adriatic League.
Despite the Phoenix having yet to take to the court, their first signing is one of quality.