Waikato Pistons snap up BJ Anthony
The emergence of BJ Anthony as a prominent bench player for the NZ Breakers is a promising sign for the Waikato Pistons.
The Pistons have snapped up Anthony for the upcoming National Basketball League season as they chase their third championship in four seasons.
The 1.96m 22-year-old has got extra court time with the the Australian NBL-leading Breakers over the past months and is emerging as a talented forward.
Pistons boss John Davey said the franchise was delighted to sign Anthony ahead of the Auckland Stars and Harbour Heat.
"The court time he's got recently for the Breakers will be very beneficial for us. He's exceeded expectations in that league and given his size and skills will be a real asset for us in the NBL."
Next on the shopping list for the Pistons – who were denied a title three-peat when beaten 2-1 in last year's finals by Wellington Saints – are two imports.
Davey said coach Dean Vickerman was close to signing an exciting point guard but that deal fell through and is now scouting through tape and recommendations with a host of other options.
The Pistons' second import will likely be a power forward, giving them an impressive lineup should they smartly recruit their overseas performers.
Along with Anthony, the Pistons will suit up Breakers stars Thomas Abercrombie and Alex Pledger, along with experienced shooting guard Hayden Allen.
Veterans Puke Lenden and Ray Cameron are training with the side and expected to sign for another season while Vickerman has picked up two promising youngsters in Auckland's Marco Alexander and former Cambridge product James Comer.
"We think Marco could be a real surprise package in the league and is a genuine Rookie of the Year contender while James has been impressive in pre-season training," Davey said.
While Waikato, Wellington and Nelson Giants again loom as title contenders, Davey said he expected the league to be more competitive than usual.
"Most teams have recruited well," he said. "Southland have kept most of their squad and signed [former Tall Black point guard] Mark Dickel, which is a great signing. Otago will be a lot more competitive after getting [Tall Black forward] Craig Bradshaw and they may get Luke Martin too.
"Palmerston North have recruited well ... while Hawke's Bay will be competitive."