NEW signing Keena Young will make his debut for the Ballarat Miners just two days after arriving in Australia.
The United States recruit will step off a plane tomorrow morning and suit up against Mt Gambier Pioneers in the opening-round game of the South East Australian Basketball League season in Ballarat on Saturday night.
While far from an ideal preparation, it is essential that new head coach David Flint has the strongest possible line-up on court.
The Miners’ roster has undergone a complete overhaul in the off-season, with Young the fifth and final key recruit.
He joins fellow US import Matt Hanson (Bundaberg Bulls, QBL), Chris Smith from Mt Gambier, Chris Blicavs (Diamond Valley, Big V) and NBL development player Lucas Walker (Melbourne Tigers).
Point guard Shaun Bruce is the only frontline player returning for the Miners, but owing to commitments with his NBL team Cairns Taipans, is not expected to be available until Ballarat’s third game against Bendigo on Wednesday April 3.
The Miners will also have to wait a similar time until Walker is available.
Young, who is 198 centimetres tall, will arrive in Ballarat with vast international experience.
The forward has played in Finland, Israel, Philippines, Kosovo, France and South Korea.
Flint expects Young will physically strengthen the Miners’ roster with his size and skill.
“Keena Young is an outstanding player who brings a tremendous skill set to our group with great fundamentals.”
Playing in his senior year at Brigham Young University in NCAA division one, Young averaged 17.4 points and 6.6 rebounds a game – winning the Mountain West Conference player of the year award.
In a setback for the Miners, up-and-comer Lindsay Cole might miss up to six weeks after twisting a knee in a practice game against Big V team Corio Bay.
Miners administrator Jimmy Hunt said Cole had been fortunate to escape serious ligament damage, but had suffered a bad enough strain on landing awkwardly to delay his season.
With Cole out, Hanson, Smith, Young, and Blicavs will be backed up by Australian representative Anthony Fisher, Jack Saunders, Ash Constable and Sean Massey against the Pioneers.