Joy over ‘NBA quality’ signings
THE Manawatu Jets have landed two huge signings for the upcoming season which could see them become contenders for the playoffs.
Richard Jeter, a 1.98m guard, and Ronald Allen, a 2.08m power forward, have signed with the franchise on the back of Ryan Weisenberg’s confirmation as head coach.
Jeter, 29, will bring a wealth of experience to the side having being drafted by the LA Lakers in 2003 before being traded to the Memphis Grizzlies, although he never played an NBA game.
For the last seven years he has played in Europe – in Russia, Ukraine and the Czech Republic.
Allen is a 25-year-old who has a tryout with the Lakers lined up for next summer.
Weisenberg is likely to run an LA Lakers-style offence with the Jets and Allen wants the chance to play in that system before he has the trial.
Manawatu Jets chairman Ricky Pene said they were great signings to start a roster around.
‘‘When we attracted a quality coach, with his background and recruiting we knew he would have good contacts,’’ Pene said.
‘‘I don’t think we would have expected to have NBA quality players in his first round of imports to come to New Zealand. ‘‘We are absolutely ecstatic.’’ Jeter is the type of player the Jets can build their offence around; he is a solid outside shooter and has a strong midrange jump shot.
He has been a prolific scorer in the leagues he has played in and his ability to shoot the three is something the side missed dearly last season.
Jeter will play mostly at shooting guard but will fill in some minutes at point to fit in with Weisenberg’s system.
Allen’s presence in the post will be a huge asset to the side and he averaged 20 rebounds per game in the Costa Rican league where he had been playing.
His size is rare in the NBL too and he’s played college basketball in the United States at Xavier and the University of Cincinnati, as well as in the NBA development league.
With the ink barely dry on their contracts the recruitment drive now moves to getting some Kiwi players on board.
‘‘ Imports don’t win this competition. In New Zealand your Kiwis do but in terms of imports these guys are going to bring it to the table,’’ Pene said.
Last season’s captain Kaine Hokianga has agreed to terms and will sign in the coming days as will Paul Bristol and Piers Finch.
The recruitment of a point guard will be at the top of the list for the side to give Jeter some quality ball to score with, but the Jets could give extended minutes to Bristol who impressed in patches last year. ‘‘ Obviously we’d want two quality point guards to run that system.
‘‘There’s an awful lot of work going on at the moment and the good ones come with quite a price tag.’’
The imports will be available for the pre-season Blitz tournament on February 21.
McDonald’s have signed as the naming rights sponsor for the Jets. Pene said the franchise had enjoyed a strong partnership with the brand that they were keen to continue.