Head coach Rob Beveridge has assembled a new group for 2021 with two classy American Imports, a host of some of the best young talent from around Southland and New Zealand along with some experienced campaigners who will form the nucleus of a squad that is set to take its first steps back on home court at ILT Stadium Southland tomorrow night. Let’s meet the 2021 Sharks.
2 – Tom Cowie: One of Southland basketball’s brightest prospects. The former Junior Tall Black has impressed this season and is likely to see increased court time as back-up point guard to American import Courtney Belger.
3 – Brayden Inger: Recognised by many as one to watch in season 2021. Inger has honed his craft over recent seasons in Western Australia and has stood out over the preseason and forced his way into the starting five in Monday’s opener in Nelson.
4 – Alonzo Burton: An NBL veteran with a key role to play in the Sharks’ 2021 offence. Southern fans will remember his shooting deeds against the Sharks over recent years and his bucket which won the Sharks the inaugural 3X3 National Cup last November. When Zo gets heated up, it rains threes!
10 – Josh Cunningham: The Chicago native stepped into a hole left when fellow American Daniel Alexander was unable to take his place in this year’s squad. Played in the NBA’s G-League for the Westchester Knicks and looks set to be a crowd favourite with his ability to play at the rim.
11 – Dom Kelman-Poto: One of the NBL’s most consistent and liked competitors, DKP was the first Sharks’ signing for 2021 for a reason. He will play a key role for Coach Beveridge this season. A menace under the basket, he had developed his outside shot since 2019 and will, without a doubt, be a force again this season.
16 – Liam McRae: Returning home from five years in the United States College system, McRae tasted the NBL as a development player with the Manawatu Jets last decade and will have an increased role to play off the bench with Alex Pledger’s unavailability to start the season.
22 – Johnny Helu: Another young talent who has flown under the radar and gets his first opportunity in the NBL with the Sharks this season. A prodigious talent at school level, Helu looked at home in NBL company from the moment he stepped on the floor on Monday afternoon in Nelson.
25 – Andrew Wheeler: The man affectionately known as Wheels is back for Sharks’ season number ten this year. The epitomy of a team man, his experience and leadership is a vital ingredient for Coach Beveridge in season 2021 and is showing no signs of slowing down, holding his younger teammates to account on the training court and on game day.
30 – Toby Gillooly: The Christchurch native was set for a breakout season in last year’s shortened NBL Showdown for the Canterbury Rams before injury curtailed his campaign. Back to full health, Gillooly is ready to step up and deliver for the Sharks this year.
32 – Courtney Belger: The experienced ten-year professional from St Louis, Missouri already showed he will be a key cog in the Sharks line-up with an eye-catching opening display in Monday’s opener. Known for his insane work ethic and his 25/8 mentality, most things the Sharks do in 2021 will centre around the veteran point guard.
34 – Connor Coll: The hard-working local Power Forward returns for his fourth season in orange and despite a bout of illness which dogged his pre-season, Coll will again likely feature more prominently this season with three season’s experience under his belt.
35 – Alex Pledger: The man known as Chief has had an off-season he won’t forget, recently diagnosed with colorectal cancer. The manner with which he has thrown himself into beating it and his commitment to return to the court this season is truly an inspiration for his team mates this year.
Development Players – Cam Archer & Ethan Mitchell: Two of the south’s best young prospects have earned the call up to the Sharks and have quickly shown their potential in stepping up to NBL level.