The Breakers have made their first splash in the import market for the 2016/17 season, announcing today the signing of American Ben Woodside to the roster for the new campaign.
Woodside turns 31 tomorrow and brings a wealth of experience to the club and his first stint in the Australian National Basketball League, having played in France, Slovenia, Georgia, Turkey and Spain. A graduate of North Dakota State, the Minnesota native comes partly on a strong recommendation from Kirk Penney, who is returning to the club on a three year deal.
Breakers head coach Paul Henare is delighted at the quality of player the club has been able to attract, one who is vastly experienced in the pro leagues.
"When we set about recruiting a new point guard, one of the key aspects that was non-negotiable was experience. We need a player to lead us around the floor and make the right decisions in pressure cooker situations. The reputation of the club and the fact we had a willing ally in Kirk certainly helped, Ben is attracted to who we are and what we stand for as much as we were interested in him."
Returning club favourite Kirk Penney can't wait to team up again with his former team mate in Spain and Turkey.
"Ben is a true point guard that relishes leading the team and getting his teammates involved", said Penney. "He plays with a lot of passion at both ends of the court and I personally loved playing with him in Spain and Turkey. I'm pumped he's decided to come to the Breakers and I believe all NBL fans will enjoy watching him play this season."
Woodside played with Penney on two separate occasions and the respect between the two is mutual, as is the desire of Woodside to play in the Australian competition.
"I've always wanted to experience the Australian New Zealand side of the world and the Australian League is something I've wanted to pursue and experience. The conversation started with my ex-teammate Kirk Penney. I'm absolutely thrilled and excited to team up with KP again. He is a great friend of to me and my family. We've always stayed in touch and throughout my career I have loved playing with him. He's an incredible player but an even better person and someone I've always had full respect for.
"Since I've started conversations with the club, it's been a delight getting to know the club, its amazing morals, and what they value in players. This club has a historic tradition and I think I'll be a great fit for this organization."
Henare says Woodside will bring a very different look to the club.
"His name came up reasonably early in the recruiting process and it didn't take long for us to decide he was right for us and we were right for him. With his experience in Europe and a great College career, he is going to come in straight away and be the floor general that I will demand from our point guard, he has a good balance in finding open guys - which we are going to have plenty of, as well as being a capable scorer in his own right.
"He is a totally different style of player to Cedric (Jackson), both are of course very good in their own right. But what Ben brings is he is a very good outside shooter and very strong in pick and roll situations and thrives in having good shooters around him, which we will have. He will play the game in a different way but will have an immediate impact on the floor."
Woodside will join the Breakers on September 1st for their pre-season campaign. The club has now signed 9 of the 11 fulltime roster positions, with just an import power forward and one local spot left for Henare and his assistants Judd Flavell and Mike Fitchett to fill, something that is already well advanced in regards players being scouted.