The SKYCITY Breakers have moved early to confirm three signatures to their fulltime roster of ten players for the 2013/14 Australian National Basketball League.
28 year old American Darnell Lazare will fill one of the two import spots, the power forward has committed to a one year deal with a further one year option.
Tall Black Jeremiah Trueman returns to the club on a two year contract after playing the last three seasons with the Perth Wildcats, the 26 year old New Plymouth born Trueman comes into the roster to provide back-up minutes for the big men.
And the final player confirmed today is the elevation of forward Rueben Te Rangi from development player to fulltime player on a 3 year contract. The 18 year old has progressed through the club ranks from Academy player to now being a fulltime professional with the club.
Former Kings player Lazare acknowledged his support team in Sydney as he contemplated a move to the three-time champions.
“While playing for the Kings we knew each game against the Breakers was going to be a massive challenge and we had some good battles. Having won back to back titles, the Breakers were the benchmark. Also I’d like to thank coach (Shane) Heal, staff, teammates and the Kings organization for giving me an opportunity to come to into NBL.
“Obviously I’m excited to be back in the NBL and really excited about being part of the SKYCITY Breakers organization. This club has won 3 championships in a row so they understand how to win and I look forward to the challenges and opportunities that this upcoming season will provide. There’s a winning culture here and I want to help continue that success.”
Trueman was a little caught out at the call from Head Coach Vickerman but it was one he was delighted to take.
“I am excited to come back home, even if I was a little surprised with the opportunity. It will be awesome to be home after three years away, I loved my time in Perth but this opened up for me and it will be nice to be home again.
“Watching the club these last three years, man, it is impressive what the club has been able to do, the amount of growth in the organisation and players is awesome and it is an exciting time to be a part of it once again. We have spoken about me playing the 4 and 5, helping out Alex and Darnell in those roles. I am really looking forward to combining with Mika, Alex and Darnell in the Breakers front court"
Head Coach Dean Vickerman says recruitment is not about simply swapping one player for another, it is about the overall group.
“This is not a case of replacing Will Hudson with Darnell, it is more about how do we replace Dillon Boucher? You can’t replace him like for like, so we have gone for something a little different. Darnell provides us with some mid range and perimeter shooting but still has a post game and will provide disruption up the floor.
“We have always looked to up the ante a little each year with Pledger and saw that last year, especially while Hudson was injured, he played extended minutes and he responded well. We want to up ante with Alex again this season and with Dillon retiring we needed to go with an import at the 4 spot capable of playing some 5 as well. Darnell is the perfect fit, and as mentioned he brings something a little different to the group which will be great.”
Vickerman says Trueman was the next part of the plan.
“Once we had Lazare secured we had 4 points to play with (under the NBL points cap) and wanted absolutely the best player we could get. JT is a Kiwi, is already playing the role we want at the Wildcats and was a perfect fit to come back to SKYCITY Breakers and be a part of what we think is an excellent four ‘bigs’ now.
“One of our trademarks is ‘relentless’, JT epitomises that, every day in practice and every minute he plays all out, that effort gives you opportunities to get more ball, he gets rebounds, dives on loose ball.
“Both guys are great fits, high quality characters who will add to our group and live up to our club values.”
Judd Flavell is the Breakers Academy Head Coach and an Assistant Coach to Vickerman and has watched Te Rangi closely these past few years.
“Reuben offers great athleticism and size and strength for a young man, already we know he can defend multiple positions and offer flexibility, his offence is coming along, he has been known as a shooter but needs to add consistency.
“He is one of the boys that have chosen the Breakers pathway; we are keen to help him succeed on and off the court, including studies. I can see him playing here for a long time; we may lose him eventually to NBA or overseas but we have the makings of a great long term player.”