Classy Americans sure to bolster Belfast Star hopes in All Ireland Premier League
Belfast Star coach Neal McCotter would have had every reason to feel a little deflated after losing super twins Conor and Aidan Quinn to American scholarships but the club's recruitment drive has turned such thoughts on their head as he prepares for the start of the All Ireland Premier League.
McCotter will have two new Americans on his roster, Shawn Vanzant and Sascha Seymore, as well as Marty McDonald, signed from the UU Elks. It is Vanzant who will draw most of the spotlight as the 6ft 1' point guard played in the NCAA championship finals Stateside.
"Shawn has probably played at a higher level than any other American Star have ever had and we've had some great Americans like Javan Dupree and John Leahy so it is a major coup to get him," said McCotter whose side travel to Dublin tomorrow to face Marian.
"It's unusual for us to recruit a point guard but we had a good chat about exactly what we needed at the club and we decided on a point guard and we really couldn't have asked for anyone better. Shawn played in a friendly earlier in the week and looked very impressive
"We have good height in Liam Pettigrew, Keelan Cairns and Michael McKillop and with Sascha coming in he will also give us height and strength."
While Vanzant has come through the usual route via an American college where he played under Brad Stevens, now head coach of the Boston Celtics, Seymore has arrived here on a scholarship.
"Sascha had a serious injury earlier in the year but he has been training with us and we expect him to be playing in about three weeks time.
"He played at a very high level as well with North Carolina so we're delighted to have him and to have two Americans is a big boost. We know it's going to be another tough season but we are aiming for the top four.
"The game with Marian on Saturday night will be tough, they will be seen as favourites because they have recruited very strongly.
"But I am very happy with how we are shaping up and hopefully we can gel very quickly and get off to a good start."
McCotter became a father in the summer and his role this season was in the balance due to parental and business duties but he admits that wife Nicole was very understanding when it came to him commiting to his coaching duties.
"My wife has been very patient. It was a long conversation! Obviously she would like me at home doing my bit but she understands my commitment to the club and I have to say she has been a great support," he added.
Star have also brought in Adam Ryan, who has moved up from school basketball with St Malachy's.