THE Albury-Wodonga Bandits have signed the import playmaker they hope will help defend their national SEABL crown.
Eric Vann, an explosively athletic 183-centimetre combo guard from Bowie State University, has been tagged by coach Brad Chalmers as the “ideal replacement” for star Jazz Ferguson, who has defected to Bendigo.
The Maryland native had been involved in several NBA Development League tryouts this year after averaging 18 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals a game during his senior season when he led the Bulldogs to a 23-6 record.
An excited Chalmers said the left-handed Vann would hopefully provide all the brilliant attributes Ferguson provided last year but with some added size and strength.
“He’s a very good shooter, he’s probably a bit bigger than Jazz, he’s 85 kilograms, so he’s super explosive,” Chalmers said.
“He’s got all the attributes we want, he can play both guard spots and he’s excited about being able to do that here.
“D-League scouts I’ve spoken to say he’s been doing a fantastic job in terms of playmaking and I think we’re getting someone who will come in and do his thing very well.”
Darrell Brooks, Vann’s coach at Bowie State, said the Border club could expect plenty of exciting highlights.
“First of all Eric is a terrific person, someone of high character and from a basketball standpoint Eric is a tremendously athletic guard,” Brooks said.
“He is an outstanding scorer and will bring a high level of excitement to the team.”
Chalmers said he was confident there wouldn’t be too many players capable of defending Vann’s quickness and athleticism.
“I think he’ll be like (former Geelong star) Rodney Walker or (North West Tasmania standout) Shawntes Gary with his athleticism and his bursts of speed,” Chalmers said.
“It’ll be something new for everyone here, I think people will find it very difficult to stay in front of him.
“And that will be at the defensive end too, he’ll bring a new dimension to the league.”
An added incentive for Chalmers was Vann’s off-court involvement with his own mentoring program in Maryland, as it demonstrated a community-minded attitude expected of Bandits imports.
“The biggest thing for me was getting the right personality,” Chalmers said.
“Eric has strong family connections, he runs a basketball program for kids so he has that community fit as well.
“And he seems like a really nice guy, he’s a confident guy and he believes in his talent.”
The Bandits are expected to finalise their roster soon, with the possible addition of two players, believed to be a forward and a guard.