Lamar Mallory didn’t hold back when asked what he expected to bring to the floor for the Albury-Wodonga Bandits this season.
Now in his fourth year as a pro, Bandits fans will be pleased to note Mallory hasn’t lost the spark that made him stand out when he got his first gig out of college here on the Border, back in 2014.
But after a few productive seasons in Europe, the live-wire 201-centimetre forward has a noticeably considered follow-up to his typically enthusiastic first response.
“Dunking is one of those things where, if you have a guy that is willing to sacrifice his body and challenge another guy on the court, go up against him at the rim, that strong character can bring feat to your opponent,” Mallory said.
“That’s something I’d like to bring to the table and something I think the club expects me to bring.”
The Bandits kept tabs on Mallory during his seasons in Europe, and the Ohio native said he was excited to showcase the growth in his game when he returns to the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre.
“My game grew and matured, coming out of college and becoming a pro was a big change,” he said.
“I was still fresh and raw in 2014.
“Being in Germany taught me to be more aware on the court.
“As an older guy, you have no choice but to grow, that’s what’s been going on these past few years.”
Joining Mallory as the club’s other import is Rashad Hassan, a five-year pro who has won a championship in the British Basketball League and was specifically targeted by head coach Brad Chalmers as the ideal running mate for Mallory.
Those two, combined with reunited teammates Deba George and Daniel Sepokas, will offer the Bandits a level of experience the starting five arguably lacked last season.
Hassan played with Rockhampton in the Queensland Basketball League last season after the BBL season finished, and followed it with a brief stint in France.
It was a lot of basketball for one year though, and the seasoned veteran said the decision to cut short his time in France had meant he was ready to go now.
“All the minutes and practices added up and took a toll on my body, so to have a break and be here for a fresh start, I needed that,” he said.
“I had a great experience last season in Australia, so I decided to give it a shot with coach Brad and become a Bandit this season.”
While Mallory is relishing a return to familiar surrounds, Hassan said he was looking forward to settling in to life on the Border.
“Everything is new to me here and I prefer that, getting to meet new people, new teammates,” he said.
The 2018 SEABL season begins next months, with the Bandits first game in April 7.