The Southland Sharks have signed promising 21-year-old Shea Ili for the 2014 National Basketball League season as they add even more spark to an already talented roster.
Ili was a standout in the struggling Waitakere Rangers NBL outfit in 2013 - a team that only won two games all season.
He has only had two seasons in the NBL but has already made an impact.
After being a part of the Championship winning Auckland Pirates in 2012, Ili had a standout year for the Rangers averaging 11 points, four rebounds, two assists and one steal per game.
Ili's signing is as a replacement for Dan Peck who will not suit up for the Sharks in 2014. Peck is battling with a knee injury and has decided to pull the pin.
Ili will play a similar role to Peck in the back court and has been compared to outstanding Sharks and Breakers guard Reuben Te Rangi.
Ili's singing is yet another feather in coach Paul Henare's cap as far as his ability to attract good young talent south.
"I'm very pleased to have Shea join the Sharks for 2014. With Dan Peck's departure it left a gap that needed to be filled and to have Shea fill that gap is very exciting. His energy and athletic ability gives us the punch we'll need off the bench in 2014.
"I'm sure the way he plays will guarantee he becomes a crowd favourite in no time at all," said Henare.
Sharks general manager Jill Bolger was disappointed key bench player Peck would not be returning but was encouraged they were able to find a good replacement.
"We were very sad when Dan said he would not be able to play due to injury. He is and will remain very much part of our Sharks family," she said.
"Having Shea available as a replacement means we are pretty much swapping like for like so the roster will be able to cover for the loss of Dan."He comes with a big reputation and great potential," Bolger said.
"We look forward to him working with coach Henare and our experienced players as we try to defend the NBL title in 2014."
Ili's signing takes to seven the number of players the Sharks have locked in for next season.
Players that have already signed on with the Sharks for 2014 are: Braswell, Leon Henry, Reuben Te Rangi, Luke Martin, Gareth Dawson and Ili. The Zero Fees-sponsored Sharks will open their season against the Otago Nuggets on April 4.
- The Southland Times