Henare says new import will entertain

By National Basketball League

Excitement is building at Atlas Place as the SKYCITY Breakers today announced the final piece of their 2016/17 roster jigsaw with the signing of American/Panamanian Akil Mitchell, the 11th and final fulltime roster player for the upcoming campaign.

The 206cm (69") tall 24 year old is a native of Charlotte North Carolina and comes to the Breakers following a stellar College career at Virginia, working with respected Head Coach and former North Harbour player and coach Tony Bennett, a two time winner of the prestigious Henry Iba Award for the nation's top coach as voted by the USBWA.

Mitchell played a key role at Virginia and helped them to regular season and ACC Tournament Championships in 2014, in the process being named to the ACC All-Defensive team and second All ACC Tournament Team.

SKYCITY Breakers Head Coach Paul Henare likes what the scouting reports say and is even more convinced knowing that Mitchell has worked so closely with Bennett.

"Akil had a four-year career at Virginia and has two years experience playing professionally. His time under Tony Bennett - who has a great connection with New Zealand, wouldve prepared him well for a long and successful career. One of the things that impressed me most was his willingness to learn and do whatever it takes for the team to win.

"Through watching tape and talking to our US scout Jonathan Givony, I knew we were getting someone that can guard 1-5 if needed which gives us some great flexibility when it comes to our defence. Offensively he will bring a great energy and with his athleticism, will be a crowd favourite Im sure."

Undrafted in 2014, Mitchell has since spent time with the Houston Rockets (NBA Summer League), Rio Grande Valley Vipers (NBA Development League), the Brooklyn Nets (2015 NBA Summer League) before heading to France with Olympique Antibes for the 2015/16 season. In 49 games for the Vipers he averaged 9.8 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.0 steal per game.

Mitchell spoke at his arrival press conference just hours after landing in New Zealand.

"I am super excited to be here, this is a good league with a lot of good players coming through. It is a good stepping stone for me in my career and a great opportunity to win some games. From what I have heard it is a great country and I am looking forward to it.

"We were just in a room with all the championship trophies, I know this is a family orientated programme from ownership down, it is about family. I am looking forward to being a part of that, a team that wants to win and expects to win but is based on those great values."

The entire roster begins training from Thursday at Atlas Place, with the first chance for fans to see the team in action coming during the pre-season series against Brisbane Bullets in Tauranga (September 13), Napier (September 15) and Invercargill (September 17).

The season gets underway with a mouthwatering clash against Melbourne United featuring Cedric Jackson and Tai Wesley on October 7 at Vector Arena, Season Memberships are on sale now at www.nzbreakers.co.nz

- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Basketball New Zealand

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