New Taylor Hawks basketball coach Mick Downer has taken another step towards holding on to the core of the Napier-based 2021 Sal's NBL beaten-finalist squad with the signing of skilled and versatile post player Jordan Hunt for his second season in the Hawks shirt.
The re-signing of star player Ethan Rusbatch was announced earlier this month, a couple of days before Basketball NZ announced a first round-draw for next season, including a 2021 grand final rematch between the Hawks and champion side Wellington Saints – tentatively pencilled-in for Pettigrew Green Arena, Taradale, on April 10.
From Lower Hutt, Hunt, 24 and one of the tallest in the league at 2.06 metres (6ft 9in), made his NBL debut in the Saints squad in 2015, and came to the Hawks this year with a championship under his belt with grand finals MVP honours with the Otago Nuggets in 2020, and an ABL season with Cairns Taipans.
He had four seasons with Southern Oregon University Raiders in American Academic All-Cascade Conference basketball.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
In February he was one of 10 international basketball newcomers named in a 12-man Tall lacks squad to face Australia in Cairns in an Asia Cup qualifier, with contracted ANBL players unavailable at the time.
Downer and the Hawks will focus on massing the "New Zealand-only" core with the position on imports in the league amid the Covid environment still to be decided. No 2021 Hawks have yet been signed to other franchises.
The coach said the club is "really excited" about the return of Hunt, who has been courted by several teams as one of the biggest "free-agency" signings in the league.
"He has winning in his veins, is highly motivated to continue to grow his game, is a great teammate and is really skilful," he said. "Damn, what more could a coach ask for?"
Hunt said: "Having come so close last year I thought this season was a great chance to build on what we achieved with hopefully the core guys returning again. I've also heard nothing but good things about Mick (Downer) and I'm looking forward to getting to work with him and the guys in the New Year."