His new teammates dumped him at the time, but South East Melbourne Phoenix has secured a former NBA player as their import guard for the 2021-22 season.
South East Melbourne star Mitch Creek let the cat out of the bag with an early Instagram following, but the Phoenix have their man in the new Xavier Munford.
However, excitement over his signing has been tempered by news that US center Zach Hankins will not make the journey to the depths after sustaining a knee injury during the NBA Summer League.
Munford, a former combined point guard for the Memphis Grizzlies and Milwaukee Bucks, is a proven player who broke the NBA G-League in 2017-18, averaging 24.4 points, 5.2 assists and 5 rebounds in elite shooting percentages.
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“I’m very excited. I talked to a lot of my friends who play for the NBL and they told me all the good things,” Munford said.
“I spoke with Scott Machado, Cam Oliver, Jarrell Martin and Mitch Creek; all of these guys gave me great feedback on the country, the city, and basketball.
“I was looking for opportunities that fit my game and my style of play and I thought that coming to the NBL would be a perfect place to show that with the style of play and the pace of the game that really suits my type of play.”
Eagle-eyed social media users noted that Creek, along with teammates Kyle Adnam and Dane Pineau, had followed Munford on the show before Phoenix made it official on Wednesday.
“Creeky always does a good job selling us on fast track, but we’re so excited to have Xavier on board,” laughed Phoenix boss Tommy Greer.
Greer said the 193cm New Jersey native would be the team’s main ball handler and add size to the position.
“He’s just a professional,” Greer said of the 29-year-old, who comes to the club from Bursaspor in Turkey.
“He has seen Australia as a great platform for him, he wants to come here, win a championship and have a great season.
“He’s a great creator, he can score from the perimeter, the midrange (and) in the basket, which will open up a lot more opportunities for the shooters we have on the wings.
“We think it is going to be a big problem for the opposition teams.”
Hankins was unveiled last month as the club’s first import for 2021-22, but a cartilage injury in his knee forced Phoenix to look for another great man.
Greer said the pandemic has complicated preseason training efforts, and the full group isn’t expected to be together until October 1, before the season starts in mid-November.
“It’s condensed, but they are the parameters that we have been treated to,” Greer said.
Exhausted during a tough NBL initiation, sniper Ryan Broekhoff is shaping up to be a talisman for the Phoenix.
“The team says it looks amazing, is moving very well and is ready for a great year,” Greer said.
“You get that preseason under your belt and you feel a little more comfortable in your surroundings and I think being settled is a really important factor for Rowdy.”
Originally posted as NBL22: News, stories and transfers from around the NBL