Cheshire Phoenix general manager James Brice says the quality of the two additions so far show that the club mean business in the BBL this season.
The Nix have so far added two players to their roster for the forthcoming season, which begins next month, with former Plymouth University Raiders point guard Josh Wilcher and ex-Leicester Riders man Jamell Anderson both arriving at the Cheshire Oaks Arena.
Both players have established themselves as key men in British basketball’s top tier in recent seasons and their signings have raised eyebrows and expectations in Ellesmere Port.
The club are believed to have reached deals with three American players but are currently waiting on visas for the trio before announcing, but Brice believes that there will be the quality at new head coach Colin O’Reilly’s disposal this season to allow the club to mix it with the BBL’s best.
“We are really happy with our recruitment so far and we are still in the process of finalising our roster,” said Brice, who begins his second season in the role of GM at the Nix.
“Both Josh and Jamell are proven players in the BBL who we know can make an impact and we needed guys like that after losing big players like Akeem Ellis, David Aliu, Kinu Rochford and Danny Huffor.
“We needed quality players who knew the league and that is what we have acquired. Josh and Jamell were our top two targets and it is very pleasing that we have been able to land them both.
“We have managed to sign one of the best point guards in the league and one of premier British players in the BBL in Josh and Jamell, respectively. Our aim is to challenge the best teams in this league and we feel we have made a good start.”
Cheshire are likely to run with a short rotation next season with the likes of Phoenix academy graduate Max Jones likely to play a bigger role than his rookie year last time out.
Other young British talent is likely to form the bulk of the supporting cast as Cheshire look to re-establish themselves as one of the premier sides in British basketball.
Last season saw the club make the move back to their Ellesmere Port roots after securing tenancy at the town’s Sports Village following 22 years at the Northgate Arena in Chester.
Crowds steadily improved for the club at their 1,400 seater home in the Port and Brice believes that many changes that the club went through last season will stand them in good stead for the future.
“Last season was very much a season of transition for us as a club,” said Brice.
“We left the Northgate Arena and moved back to Ellesmere Port and we had a new chairman for the first time in four years and we had to contend with a lot of changes on the court too.
“But we have come through all that now and the Cheshire Oaks Arena is very much our home now and people associate us with the town and the venue once more.
“We actively try and get out into the town and surrounding areas to let people know we are are here and what we are about and we are residents at the Ellesmere Port Sports Village and we’ve been running coaching camps during the summer months, so there has continued to be basketball here.
“Last year was also my first season as general manager. I’m able to go into the new season with much more experience and knowledge and the aim now is to keep on building the club as a brand and keeping more and more people coming back to see us in action. We feel we have made big strides forward and are delighted we have secured a new head coach such as Colin.
“We struggled early on last season and our troubles on the court were well documented. But we have got over all that now and we will be looking to turn the arena into a real fortress next season and putting a winning basketball team on the floor.
“We’re very confident we will be able to do that and pleased with the start we have made so far.”
Cheshire begin their BBL campaign away at Worcester Wolves on Friday, September 23 (7.30pm) before beginning their home campaign with a tough test against last season’s BBL Cup winners Newcastle Eagles on Sunday, September 25 (5.30pm).