Sharks slot American import into final section

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 12/02/2013

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The final piece of the Southland Sharks 2013 National Basketball League puzzle has been added with the signing of St Louis University product Brian Conklin as their second import.

New coach Paul Henare has been scouring the world and talking to many people in an attempt to pick up an import who he thinks can add plenty to the Sharks' team for the 2013 season.

Conklin's name came up early in discussions when Henare talked with a player agent whom he trusted about possible import options.

It is understood Conklin was originally looking at opportunities playing in Europe or staying in the United States and playing in the D-league, but when it became apparent the 23-year-old would be available, Henare decided to pounce after plenty of research on him.

Henare sorted people to watch him play and give feedback and he also had a discussion with Tall Black Rob Lowe who was a team-mate of Conklin at St Louis University.

The Sharks' coach said it all pointed to the power forward being a good pick up.

"Out of all the guys I looked over in that time, and there's been several, he's probably the one I spent the most time on and that's probably why I feel pretty comfortable signing him," Henare said yesterday.

"He's a big body, he's probably not as tall as I was looking for in that second import, he only stands at [1.98m] which isn't that tall for his position.

"He's a power forward, he'll probably play a bit of centre for us but he's a really strong body, he works hard, he gives a good target inside. He's sort of a around-the-bucket type guy, he's got a good mid-range shot on him as well. But the thing I loved about him is from all accounts his work ethic is great, he plays with super high energy."

The 1.98m 104kg forward played for the SLU Billikens under legendary late college coach Rick Majerus from 2008-2012.

Conklin helped the Billikens into the round of 32 at last year's NCAA tournament before they suffered a heart-breaking four point loss to top seeded Michigan State.

A native of Oregon, Conklin was also called up to try out for the Denver Nuggets in mid-2012.

In his four seasons at St Louis University he played 133 games, starting in 102 of them.

He averaged 23.6 minutes per game, averaged 4.1 rebounds per game and 8.7 points.

Conklin will arrive in Invercargill in mid-March in preparation for the Sharks' season opener on April 19.

Henare said the plan was to have the entire squad in Invercargill in mid-March to give them at least four weeks all together before game one.

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The Sharks' other import, Kevin Braswell, is in Auckland where he is training and Henare was happy with where he was.

- The Southland Times

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