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Sam Timmins has signed with the Otago Nuggets.
Nuggets general manager Angela Ruske confirmed yesterday the 2.11m centre will turn out for the franchise next year.
He is the first player contracted, although Ruske said the team was close to deals with its other local players too.
It marks a return for the 23-year-old, who made two appearances for the Nuggets in 2013.
In the process he became the youngest Nugget ever, aged just 15.
Timmins played for the Franklin Bulls in this year’s National Basketball League, having already signed before the Nuggets’ last minute return to the league.
However, he wore Nuggets colours at the league’s 3x3 competition earlier this month.
Timmins brings quality and experience to the side.
He has played for the Tall Blacks and spent four years playing at the University of Washington in the United States.
In that time he shared a court with an ever growing list of NBA players.
His size was also important, as the limited availability of Australian NBL players meant there were few quality genuine big men on the market.
Ruske added the franchise had made signing its local players a priority.
While not able to give names, she said it included many of those who were involved in this year’s champion team.
Josh Aitcheson, Richie Rodger, Darcy Knox, Matthew Bardsley and Jack Andrew are all Otago locals who were on that team.
Kane Keil also turned out for the team in the 3x3 competition, moving to Dunedin and playing club basketball in the lead-in.
Benoit Hayman was the other player from Dunedin, although he has since returned to Switzerland, where he is playing his third season with Nyon.
Ruske said the team had also had discussions with players from outside the region.
Coach Brent Matehaere has been confirmed as being back for next year.
The franchise has also appointed a commercial manager, Tania Dickie.
Ruske said there had been strong interest from sponsors.
Meanwhile, the team was also launching a founding members programme.
In that, 50 people or businesses could support the team at three different levels, in return getting five years of premium tickets, as well as other benefits and recognition.