Meet the Rockets Men Premier League Squad for 2016
INTRODUCING THE MEN’S PREMIER LEAGUE SQUAD FOR 2016
The North Adelaide Basketball Clubs Men’s Premier League team for 2016 is once again a mix of veteran talent, some up and coming NABC juniors and some exciting new faces. Having beaten every rival at least once in 2015, the boys were disappointed with their 2 point loss to Sturt in the Elimination Final and are working very hard to address the shortfall in the upcoming season. Under the guidance of John Rossi, they have certainly been sweating it out on the track for a number of weeks in an effort to improve their overall fitness levels. In addition, Senior Coach Nathan Hawkes has been overseeing two further on court sessions per week as he looks to continue to cement the fast paced style that proved very successful last year.
Our core veterans, and Leadership Group, Tom Rowe (Team Captain with over 200 games for North), Brett Collins (who will play his 150th game this season), Luke Mapunda (over 100 games), and John Wernham (who will play his 100th game this year), have been successful performers at this level over a number of years. They bring not only their considerable skills, but big game experience, and will provide guidance to the many younger members of the squad, on what it takes to be a Premier League player.
Not yet veterans but certainly building on their game experience, having been in the system for several seasons, Luke Pike and Adam Schild are looking for breakout years. Both have shown they are more than competitive at this level and are now working to be consistently good week to week. Pikey has shown he can win games off his own back, with his output from the bench, and who could forget Adam’s performance in the ANZAC Day clash last year against Norwood, where he won the medal as the game’s Most Valuable Player. There are big expectations on these two, but they have the personalities and skills to cope with that and produce the goods.
The next group of players have had a year or two in the “system” and are now at the stage where they are looking to push for regular court time. They have all been, or continue to be, successful at the junior level and are working very hard in the pre-season, improving their fitness and skills, in an effort to make an impression on the Coaching staff. They have all experienced the demands of the Premier League and are keen to take another step forward this year. Kane Della Pia, Jono Lloyd, Jake Crammond, Jordan Goggins and Brad Jonnek all fall into this category. Given the chance, they are certainly all capable of playing valuable minutes off the bench when required and contributing to a successful season.
There are also a couple of new faces this year, with import Cody Rhorer at the top of the list. Cody is from Indianapolis, Indiana but played his college basketball at Trinity Christian College in Chicago where during his 3 year stay he was a starting guard, making All Region, All Conference and All American teams in his senior year. He was also 2 times Player of the Week NAIA and 3 times Student Athlete of the Week. As further testament to his basketball abilities, Cody was selected to play with Athletes in Action, joining them for a summer tour of Israel, where he played against the Palestinian National team and several local clubs, averaging 23 points and 6 Assists per game. We look forward to his input, not just on the basketball court but also within in the larger Rockets family.
Another “newcomer” of sorts is Steve Branson. Steve played his first season in District Basketball as an Under 23 player with North, but has spent the last couple of seasons with Southern Tigers, as a starting point guard. He has excellent skills, can certainly shoot the ball and has a basketball IQ that will allow him to influence games in 2016. He will also be a difficult match up given his versatility in playing several different roles with us.
In a similar category is Cam Simmons. An excellent shooting guard, Cam is an ex North Junior and ABA player (2014), who had last year off as he looked to finalise his studies and establish his career. He is well aware of the requirements at this level and will be a big asset coming off the bench to hit some long range bombs.
Josh Graetz (who was a squad member in 2014), is also back, having spent 2015 at the basketball academy in Melbourne. With a year dedicated to basketball under his belt, Josh is looking to establish himself as a legitimate option in the “big man” spot and the chance to display the skills he has learned. He is working very hard on his fitness as the demands of the game at this level require.
From our Junior ranks, Ray Harding is an outstanding prospect. Just 16 years old and still playing in the Under 18 Division 1 team, Ray was invited to pre-season training. He quickly showed he was fit enough and when given the chance on court, showed poise beyond his years. There is every likelihood he will make his debut early in 2016.
Still in U23 ranks, but included in the squad is Gab Saldavia, who (like many of our juniors) completed the gruelling pre-season, and was a standout with his commitment. He is getting his first taste of the demands of Premier League basketball, and in particular the fitness requirements, which he is spending some extra time on. He is hoping for a taste of what it is like to be on court during a game, but in the short term, is giving his all at practice as he establishes himself within the squad.
On our long term injury/recovery list is Josh Bond who continues to astound with his improvement. Bondy is a club favourite, and slowly but surely getting himself back into shape. He rarely misses training and we are expecting improvement to continue over the coming months. He is also a valuable resource for many players looking for advice on what is required at this level to succeed.
Coach Nathan Hawkes, is this year assisted by long time Club man Ray Girvin. They are expecting and demanding a big effort this year in a push to the finals. Get on board and follow us on our return to finals action.
Singlet Number 2
Steve returns to North Adelaide (where he played in U23 ranks) having played for Southern for a couple of years. He can play in a variety of roles for the team and will prove to be a tough match up for opposition coaches. Excellent shooter, who can also carry the ball and shows the poise necessary to run the team when required.
Singlet Number 3
Jono is an up and coming junior (still eligible for U23’s), who had a taste of senior Men’s basketball in 2014 and 2015. He is a point guard with an elite fitness level, who can carry the ball with confidence. He continues to learn the craft of a point guard at a senior level and big things are expected. Look out for him coming off the bench this year and having some influence on a game with his pace.
Singlet Number 4
Ray is still eligible for Under 18’s, and in fact plays for NABC at that level. A standout as a junior, and a part of the U18 State Team in 2016, Ray quickly established himself as a squad member during pre-season training. He has excellent fitness levels and displays the necessary requirements to be a successful Premier League player. He will have some adjusting to do as he comes up against the bigger bodies and wiser heads at the senior level, but there is no doubt he has what it takes. Keep an eye on him for the future!
Singlet Number 5
Cody is NABC’s import for 2016 and big things are expected. He originally hails from Indiana, but played his College ball at Trinity College in Chicago, where he established himself as an Al Region, All Conference and All American player. He is a combo-guard who can handle the ball, or shoot it, if that is what is required. Once settled he will be an excellent contributor all over the court for us, and a valuable member of the North Adelaide community.
Singlet Number 6
Everyone knows the story of Josh Bond, an elite shooter at this level who has had his challenges over the last couple of years. His courage and determination is an inspiration to us all. He has gone through pre-season training and is busy with his rehab both on and off the court in an effort to again grace the Hillcrest court with his presence. We are expecting massive improvement again this year. He is also an excellent resource for players and coaches on many of the strategies of basketball.
Singlet Number 7
John is one of the few players in this squad who is not a North Junior, having spent his development years at Forestville. A massive presence in the keyway he has become one of the stalwarts of the team who we rely on week in week out and he always delivers. A more than capable rebounder and scorer who can win games off his own back. He had his challenges with injury in 2015, but with a clean bill of health, is looking for a BIG 2016.
Singlet Number 8
Tom bleeds red and white. He is North through and through and as team Captain, when he talks, everyone listens. He is often the one players look to for advice and help with their game and regularly sets the tone at games and practice. Played his 200th game in 2015 and hopefully there are many more to come. Has always done what the team has required and contributes in many different ways. As he enters the Autumn of his playing career, is looking for a big effort from everyone in a push to finals glory.
Singlet Number 9
Brett is another North junior who having played in the team for a number of years is certainly a quality veteran. He is an excellent 3 point shooter, who is also capable of carrying the ball when required, and gives his all on the court doing whatever it takes to help the team win. With the inclusion of Cody this year Brett will be looking at his shot more, and hitting some of those “long bombs” to win us some games.
Singlet Number 10
Brad is an ex Forestville junior who came across to North as a first year U23 Division 1 player. It has been very pleasing to see his fitness levels improve dramatically in the last 12 months. He is a scorer, with an excellent 3 point shot, who is also capable of getting himself to the basket for a layup and a foul for an extra free throw. This is his second year in the squad and as part of the expanded rotation, with his increasing confidence, he will be looking to be a legitimate contributor to the overall result.
Singlet Number 11
Cam is a North junior, who due to work commitments took a year off from Premier League in 2015. He is an elite 3 point shooter, more than capable of coming off the bench and scoring against any team. Will definitely have a role to play. Pre-season was interrupted by a pre-planned overseas holiday, but once back in full training mode he will be a valuable asset.
Singlet Number 12
Kane is another who has come through our junior program. He has had a taste of Premier League basketball for a couple of years now, so understands the requirements. He has had another big pre-season, having worked very hard on his fitness and will get an opportunity in 2016. Is a known as a “catch and shoot” player, more than capable of scoring at any level but is developing other parts of his game. A Senior player at Under 23 Division 1 level where he is developing his leadership skills, and improving his overall influence on games.
Singlet Number 14
Josh is a genuine “big” who has played all his junior basketball at North Adelaide. He was a member of the Premier League squad in 2014, but spent 2015 in Melbourne at the Basketball Academy, where he has been honing his skills. Is realising that the fitness requirements to play at this level are very high and has been working hard on that over the pre-season. Plays for the Under 23 Division 1 team, and is looking to be a standout at that level, whilst establishing himself as part of the rotations at Premier League.
Singlet Number 15
Adam has been playing basketball for North since Under 10’s and plays every game like it is his last. He is a very good shot blocker and more than capable of protecting the keyway allowing other players to take risks guarding their man. He takes great pride in his defensive efforts. Great rebounder at both ends of the floor, who regularly came off the bench in 2015, although on occasions has started and has never let the team down. He has been working on his offensive moves over the summer in an effort to become a better all-round player. Big things are expected and we are confident he will deliver.
Singlet Number 16
Jordan is a more than capable rebounder who is learning the requirements of the Men’s program. A long pre-planned overseas holiday has prevented him from participating in pre-season training, so it may be a few weeks before he gets his fitness and touch to the required level and gives himself the chance to push a case to be part of the rotations off the bench. A difficult match up for any opposition.
Singlet Number 17
Jake was a late comer to senior basketball. Having said that he has, over the last 12 months, established himself as a dedicated contributor to the squad. Rarely misses training, working hard on his skills in an effort to establish himself as an option off the bench. He is a big body who is not afraid to mix it with the other big boys in the paint and is prepared to help the team in any way he can. His work is often not seen on statistic sheets as he sets screens, blocks opposition players from the rebound and scores when given the chance. Has developed quickly and as experience grows so will his opportunity.
Singlet Number 30
Luke (or Leroy) is a true professional and a great role model, to the junior members, of what it takes to be a Premier League player. He is the barometer of the team’s success and is constantly in the gym working hard on his game, looking for improvement. In turn he has the same expectations of other players and that professionalism carries through. Is capable of many things, being a great rebounder, scorer and passer, but his experience in particular is invaluable in this group as he sets the example for others to follow.
Singlet Number 33
Luke (or Pikey) is a true team player. For several years now he has contributed off the bench in whatever capacity the coach has asked and has always done a good job. He should have a great 2016. He knows the requirements, has the skills and just needs to maintain the confidence to excel. He will continue to be a very important part of the team’s rotations.
Singlet Number 40
Gab is an Under 23 Division 1 player who has been included as part of the Men’s Premier League squad after a very solid pre-season effort. A shooting guard who is capable of carrying the ball, he is looking to understand what is required for participation at this level and is working hard on his fitness to allow him to compete. His goal for 2016 would be to get himself onto the bench for a game or two and have this be his springboard for 2017.
Senior Coach - Nathan Hawkes
Nathan’s third year in charge of the group. After a disappointing finish last year he has really put the boys through their paces in early 2016. An ex NABC junior (and Life Member), he played NBL for the Adelaide 36ers and the Newcastle Falcons over an 11 year professional career. He captained the Rockets Men’s Team in the ABA for almost 10 years and was MVP an amazing 6 times. Nathan’s experience at the professional level is invaluable to the Group and to the individuals within. He is looking to continue the momentum of 2015 as the players now fully understand his philosophies, and make a mark in the finals of 2016.
Assistant Coach - Ray Girvin
Ray has been involved in basketball for over 40 years. Growing up in Whyalla he played in many Country State Championships, and was (as a junior), schooled in the basics by inaugural 36ers coach Mike Osbourne for a number of years. This is his first assistant opportunity at this level, but did commence coaching with North Adelaide in 2001 and has over his time coached U12, U18 and Under 23 Division 1 teams for a number of seasons. A basketball “tragic” and student of the game, Ray has stepped into the assistant’s role having spent 5 years with the Premier League squad responsible for (amongst other things) collating and analysing statistics.