BRAD COLE THE ADVOCATE The first piece of the import puzzle is complete for the North-West Thunder in 2019, with the club signing American forward Nick Banyard for the upcoming venture into the Victorian Elite League.
Thunder coach Sam Armstrong hopes the 24-year-old Texan, who stands at 203 centimetres and 102 kilograms, can bring a much-needed threat in the paint to the team as he puts together a new-look line-up following the departure of Jeremiah Ingram and Darcy Malone.
“The important thing for us this year was to have a little more presence on the inside,” Armstrong said.
“But he’s certainly got the ability to play outside which is important for imports in our league.
“He’ll be someone we can throw the ball into at the post because if his size and that was probably the thing that attracted us to him the most.
“He’s probably a legitimate four-man, but he’ll play centre for us at times because that’s our style, and he’s more than capable of defending well in that position too.”
Banyard began his college career at New Mexico in 2012 but decided to transfer after two seasons to Illinois State after being used sparingly.
After sitting out one season due to NCAA rules, Banyard averaged 5.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game for the Redbirds before transferring again to the University of Central Florida for his senior season, where in 28.4 minutes per game he averaged 6.2 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.
He was, however, part of the Knights’ impressive season, which saw them make the National Invitation Tournament semi-finals.
Banyard’s first foray into the professional ranks took him to Japan’s B-League, where he played with Aomori Wat’s for 17 games and compiled stats of 8.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 19.1 minutes per game.