The Wellington Saints are on the verge of adding former Cairns Taipans swingman Andrew Warren to their star-studded roster.
Pero Cameron's squad already boasts current Tall Blacks Lindsay Tait, Corey Webster and Casey Frank as well as decorated Breakers forward Dillon Boucher.
Negotiations with Warren were "99 per cent" done, said Saints guard Jordan Mills, the son of owner Nick Mills, who has assisted coach Cameron with the import hunt.
The 1.95-metre American starred as a shooting guard at Bradley University between 2006 and 2010.
Warren graduated as the 10th-leading scorer in the school's history and also gained media coverage for his impersonations of US President Barack Obama.
Warren, currently playing in Cyprus, averaged 13 points per game for Cairns in the 2011-12 Australian NBL season.
With Tait and Webster in the backcourt, Mills said Warren would primarily be used as a small forward in the New Zealand league.
He emerged on the Saints radar after a recommendation from New Zealand-born Taipans coach Aaron Fearne.
"We were looking for a swingman and Aaron thought he'd be perfect," Mills said.
"He said he's a top team guy, a good shooter, strong, so he thought that would be a perfect fit. Aaron came out and watched the finals last year so he knows a little bit about our league. It's 99 per cent done."
The Saints begin their season on April 19 against Taranaki and Mills said it was undecided whether they would seek a second import.
"We're keeping our options open. The ball is really in Pero's court with that one."
The Saints also have Wellington-based forwards Arthur Trousdell and Damien Ekenasio on board and are in negotiations with "one other experienced Kiwi big."
Cameron is in Australia coaching New Zealand's under-20 team at the state championships but will start working fulltime with the Saints in Wellington on Monday.
It is hoped Warren, who has also played for Nuovo Napoli in Italy, will arrive in late March, depending on Apollon's progression in the Cyprus playoffs.
Tait is due in Wellington within a fortnight although Webster and Boucher will be touch and go for the start of the season because of their Breakers commitments.
Meanwhile, Saints rivals the Manawatu Jets have been rocked by the news coach Ryan Weisenberg has pulled the pin on this year's NBL.
After three years at the Jets, the American had committed for another campaign but has decided to stay in California because his wife, Lyndsey, is pregnant.
Jets acting general manager Janet Thompson told the Manawatu Standard that it was a "big blow to us to lose Ryan".
"We were pretty excited that he was going to take us to the finals this year and do it," Thompson said.
"But we have got other options to replace him. He will not be irreplaceable. We have some very good candidates we are interested in and are talking to."
- The Dominion Post
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