Wellington Saints pick up sacked Waikato Piston

BY MARC HINTON
Last updated 12:30 13/04/2010

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The sinner has become a Saint, with Wellington's NBL team today swooping on the Waikato Pistons' dumped import Eric Devendorf.

Devendorf was released by the Pistons over the weekend after getting into a spot of bother in Napier on Friday night, where he was detained by police following an incident in a bar. Earlier the Waikato side had been rolled 78-73 by the Hawks for their first defeat of the NBL season.

Waikato team boss John Davey claimed the decision to sack the flamboyant guard, who scored a franchise record 49 points in his debut, had been unrelated to his spot of bother in Napier. It was made because he was not the style of guard the coach wanted, said Davey.

Whatever, the Pistons have chosen to look elsewhere for a point guard, despite some useful numbers being posted by Devendorf during his time in New Zealand. His 24.3 points a game is the second highest in the league, while his 54.1 percent from beyond the arc and 4.1 assists an outing are both fourth.

However, Devendorf has not remained on the unemployed list for long, with Pero Cameron's Saints side practically falling over themselves to sign up the tattooed former Syracuse standout, dumping incumbent import Daryl Hudson to make room. It's understood the Manawatu Jets and Otago Nuggets were both also interested in picking up the suddenly available long-range gunner.

Devendorf will suit up for the Saints in Wellington for the clash against the Christchurch Cougars on Friday night at TSB Bank Arena.

Clearly undeterred by the guard's bad boy reputation - he had a checkered career at Syracuse with more than one off-court incident blighting his achievements on the hardwood - the Saints says his quality as a player persuaded them to make their move.

"While I'm disappointed we had to release Daryl Hudson who is a great player and a great guy, I feel that a talent such as Devendorf, who can also play minutes at the point guard spot, is something we couldn't pass up," said Cameron.

Devendorf is what they call in basketball a 'tweener. That's to say he has the size of a point guard but plays more like a shooting guard. That didn't suit the Pistons, but it does the Saints who will use him to back up Tall Black Lindsay Tait at the one spot as well as to run in his more natural role.

The Saints also like the aggressive offensive game of this soon-to-be 23-year-old who was a McDonald's High School All-American in 2005.

"Talent like that doesn't come around that often. Hopefully we can make this a good fit." said Cameron.

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The Saints will be hoping the personnel change can spur them on after an indifferent start to the new season. They lie fifth on the standings with a 4-3 record.

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