CHESTER Jets have again beaten their rivals for another top player from the USA.
But to get 24-year-old point guard John Thomas from New York they had to release Billy Keys, who has gone to seek fame and fortune in Italy.
Keys' release was sought by his agent when it was known he had the chance to chase big money in Italy, and Jets' head coach Robbie Peers believes it was a blessing in disguise.
'I am very happy with the way it has turned out,' he said, 'because Thomas is a better player. He has outscored Keys in the same league in the States and he is quick. I have signed him to run our team.'
Peers, who now has four Americans on his bench following the recent capture of John McCord from Thames Valley Tigers, spent the early part of the summer in Florida watching teams in the same league that Thomas has played in.
'I didn't see Thomas in action, but I am familiar with the kind of players he has been playing with,' he added. 'It is the first time he has played outside the States. He has a big heart and I am sure he will be a huge crowd favourite here.'
Thomas is 5 foot 10 ins and while with St Francis University in New York he averaged 17 points, seven assists and four steals per game last season. He has been playing this summer with Long Island in the USBL.
That looks like the end of the Jets' recruitment campaign this year and Peers is now looking forward to starting the season with a visit to Derby on September 29 followed the next day by a visit from Manchester Giants.
'On paper, we have a stronger squad than last season,' he said. 'We want to build on what we achieved last season and I am ready to go.'