Basketball: Nuggets sign all-rounder from Canadian NBL

Akeem Wright
Akeem Wright
The Otago Nuggets have signed Mr Wright - Akeem Wright that is.

The 27-year-old 2m forward has inked a one-year deal and is expected to arrive in the city next week.

Wright was born in Philadelphia but honed his craft at Kansas State University before pursuing a professional career which took him to the United Arab Emirates, Argentina and Canada, where he is playing for the Moncton Miracles.

He also played two games for the Bakersfield Jam in the NBA's D-League in 2009-10 and boasts a useful record at the lower professional level.

In 13 games for the Miracles in the Canadian National Basketball League he is averaging 19.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and 4.2 assists.

In basketball terms, Wright is an all-rounder. He can cut to the hoop, he can shoot, he is an aggressive rebounder and he can defend in several positions.

"We wanted an all-rounder and this guy, in particular, because of his rebounding strength and physical strength," Basketball Otago general manager Markham Brown said.

"But he is the sort of guy who can put the ball on the floor and get to the hole and finish.

"He is a very good defender who blocks a lot of shots, as well. He is also very athletic and does some pretty amazing dunks."

While that all sounds wonderful, he does not appear to have a very good outside shooting game and that is an area the Nuggets struggled with last year.

However, Tall Blacks point guard Mark Dickel has returned to his home province this season and is widely respected for his passing game.

The additions of fringe Tall Blacks BJ Anthony and Leon Henry give the Nuggets a much more competitive-looking roster, although the pair will miss the Nuggets' earlier games while on duty with Breakers in the Australian Basketball League.

Their absence is the main reason the Nuggets recruited an all-rounder like Wright rather than opt for an out-and-out scorer. They will need his production at both ends.

"[Wright] is an exciting player and we liked what we saw. We also felt we needed someone who could have a real impact while we are waiting on those other two.

"We talked to his previous coach ... and his team and he has been a really good player on and off the court for them."

The Nuggets are expected to make an announcement regarding a second import later this week. That player is expected to be a centre.

Dickel and the two imports will have to nurse the Nuggets through the opening month of the competition. But it is also an opportunity for players such as "Sam King, James Ross and Riki Buckrell to really show their wares", Brown said.