Adekponya, Waters add bite as Parsons looks to lead Hawks back to top
MATT Parsons saw plenty to like about the Perry Lakes Hawks coaching against them as they lost to the eventual champions in each of the last two seasons, and arriving as coach adding Matt Adekponya and Robert Waters he couldn’t be more excited heading into 2017.
Parsons led the Cockburn Cougars to the SBL championship in 2016 but that was only after getting past the Hawks in a three-game quarter-final series.
The Hawks handed the Cougars two of their five losses in 2016 so Parsons was full of admiration for what they were about, and now is even more excited to be coaching the group.
Much of the group is back again as well for the Hawks.
Brian Carlwell is looking primed for a big season as the import big man with captain Ben Purser, Ben Dixon, Ryan O'Sullivan, Ryan Smith and Jordan Hickert among those back again with Parsons at the helm along with assistant coach Conrad Francis.
Then there are the additions. The Hawks have signed import point guard Robert Waters along with last year's All-Star Starting Five shooting guard Matt Adekponya.
Parsons has also brought with him Travis Hayto and Luke Wilson from the Cougars.
He has every reason to be excited about the group he has at his disposal at Perry Lakes and the signing of Adekponya was just the icing on the cake.
He had an outstanding first SBL season in 2016 with the Geraldton Buccaneers averaging 26.0 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists before most recently playing in Denmark.
Parsons can't wait to see him as part of the Hawks.
"There were two Aussies in last year's top five All Star team and Matt Adekponya was one of those with Gav Field the other. Both those guys bring a quality that no import can," Parsons said.
"All of a sudden you have two Americans, a really good quality Australian who will put up import numbers and really good role players around them, that is the mix we were after. Adekponya is just a really good human being and a good, high-character guy.
"We were lucky enough to take him away to Malaysia last year for a champions tournament that Cockburn was invited to, and he really fits our system well and he should see the results. He is going to get an opportunity to thrive and he will take it because his preparation is second to none."
Waters arrives at Perry Lakes having started at Wayland Baptist University where he was under Ty Harrelson as coach last year.
He led the school to their first ever Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament championship in 2014 and to another title in 2016 where he averaged 21 points and five boards.
His credentials speak for themselves as being First Team All-SAC, Third Team NAIA All-American and having hit 1103 three-pointers.
Parsons can't wait to see what he brings and has no doubt his shooting could be next level in the SBL.
"Personally I'm really excited about bringing him in. As such a prestigious club who has had a lot of Americans come through the door and succeed, we are excited that we've got a guy like this who is high character," he said.
"He is still only a rookie with it being his first gig out of college and there are expectations on him to perform, but we need to be strong enough to carry him if he has a bad game or two. He is going to excite the league and there is going to be some remarkable talent across the league this year.
"It's going to be as strong and deep as I've seen in many moons which is exciting. It will be good to see that we've picked another good import, if we have, and hopefully ride his coattails to a couple of wins."
Carlwell had a good season last year for the Hawks going at 18.3 points and 12.1 rebounds a game, but the general feeling was that he couldn’t have been even more imposing with better preparation.
He has now had that coming into 2017 and Parsons has no doubt that will show on the court once the season starts.
"BC's preparation for this year has been faultless. He's done a whole pre-season, he's worked on his body and he is going to be in better condition than he finished last year," Parsons said.
"And that was a guy who averaged 18 and 12 so he was putting up numbers, but this year he's a little better prepared. He has been a pleasure to deal with and he's bought in like the rest of the players so hopefully he can anchor us down on defence and then get some good looks."
Another huge piece of the Hawks is captain Ben Purser and Parsons couldn’t be happier to have a leader of his quality, character, production and work ethic.
"There are two types of leadership – somebody who tells you what to do and somebody who shows you. Ben Purser epitomises what it is to be shown how to do something. He is a quiet sort of character and only speaks when he needs to, but the guys really listen to him," Parsons said.
"He is a huge part of where we are trying to get to. His talent is phenomenal and no one works harder whether it's at training or away from it.
"Everything he does, he does at game intensity and that has to rub off on his teammates. We are trying to holster what he's got and use it as an example to the rest especially the younger group we have coming through."
The Hawks might have lost in the quarter finals in each of the last two seasons, but on both occasions they pushed the eventual champions to three games and were every chance of causing an upset from eighth spot.
Coming in as coach, Parsons is looking to try to help a group capable of going further will find a way when the time comes.
"Any team that has been bundled out in the first round by the champions the last two years after showing so much promise will feel like they have something to prove," he said.
"They probably went into both years feeling they were contenders, but there is again a sense of expectation at a club like Perry Lakes.
"The playing group feels that but we have make sure that pressure is off them a little bit so they can enjoy what they are doing. The results will come as long as they are doing all the little things right."
Perry Lakes was the team that Cockburn had the most trouble with in all of 2016 on the way to winning the championship.
Parsons saw plenty to like about them despite being an opposition coach.
"What I liked about them is that they have heart, they really do. They play hard and they left everything on the floor last year, but the inconsistency was very obvious so we are trying to iron that out this year," he said.
"At the end of the day, they had a couple of injuries that may have derailed them towards the back of the season with Hickert out and Cassir not available, but every team goes through those stages. It's just how you respond and how you promote your depth.
"You have to give the guys the keys and trust them. They are a good bunch of guys, and they work hard, and learn and listen. We have a strong, deep group that we have put together."
Photo by Serene-Elise Photography