THE expectation of a faster-paced State Basketball League in 2017 has led the Joondalup Wolves to scout an explosive NCAA Division I forward, who also trialled for the NFL.
Old Dominion alumnus Richard Ross will join Joondalup as its import player, replacing star centre Kevin Davis.
With SBL games shortening from 12-minute to 10-minute quarters in 2017, Wolves coach Ben Ettridge explained the team was looking for an import with a different dynamic to Davis.
“It’s going to be a lot faster; Kevin was great with his regular 20 points and 10 rebounds, but we need a bit more high energy and versatility,” he said.
“The 40-minute game won’t be about having those really big players but more about guys who can slot into different spots.”
The Wolves environment won’t be totally unfamiliar for Ross, who is a former college teammate and roommate of Joondalup guard Trian Iliadis.
It wasn’t Iliadis who put Ettridge in contact with the 24-year-old Texan, however.
Sports manager Stanley Ocitti, a former Cockburn Cougars basketballer, was responsible for the introduction.
Ettridge expected the powerful 200cm athlete to play anywhere from small forward to centre.
“His agility and athleticism will allow him to guard perimeter players,” he said.
“His strength is off the charts; in a pinch he can slide to the ‘five’ (centre) spot for us.”
“Then offensively he’ll cause a few match-up problems with his speed and skill set.”
Ross’s highlight reel suggests he could quickly become a fan favourite with mighty dunks on the fast break and intimidating blocks on defence.
Growing up in the American football-mad south of the country, he could have taken a football scholarship for college instead of basketball.
But football was a passion to which he returned after university. Having not earned a spot on an NBA list, Ross chased an NFL dream, landing trials with the Minnesota Vikings and San Diego Chargers.
Unsuccessful in the attempts, he finds himself on his first international sporting stint. Ross is due to arrive in February.
Ettridge said the Wolves were looking for a second tall recruit to fill the void left by Davis and retired veteran Damian Matacz.
But if they do not find one, he was confident younger players such as Brendan Tucek, Joel Offereins, Ben Gaspar and Jamie Hepburn could make the transition to the senior competition.
New stadium on target
JOONDALUP Wolves fans who have put up with the declining conditions of Joondalup Basketball Stadium will be “richly rewarded” with the new stadium, according to chief executive Cameron Britt.
Construction of the Wolves’ new home has begun at Arena Joondalup, with Britt saying it was on schedule to be finished by the end of next year.
He said Arena Joondalup owner Venueswest was “strongly supporting” the club’s “firm intent” to have a distinct Wolfpack design to the new home court.
“Our SBL Show Court 1 and surrounds will be like no other court in the league, fully Wolves branded, and a sensational spectator and game-viewing experience,” he said.
“The framework is expected to be complete by Christmas, providing a sense of size and scale to fans and members.”