The Adelaide 36ers have finalised their development squad signing three quality emerging players.
Michael Harris, Bijan Johnson and Ben Ayre join South Australian Alex Mudronja, who signed as a development player in May.
Local talent Michael Harris returns for his second season with the 36ers, after a dominant off season with Forestville in the South Australian Premier League.
The 19-year-old averaged 18.64 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.18 assists and led the league’s free throw percentage, with 83.33% accuracy.
Last month, Harris capped off a stand-out Premier League season, being awarded the men’s Frank Angove Medal for the fairest and most brilliant player in the Premier League under the age of 20.
Adelaide 36ers coach Joey Wright admitted he is in awe of Harris’ supernatural ability to make a basket.
“Michael is probably one of our best natural scorers on the team. His ability to put the ball in the hole is uncanny. So, we want to definitely mature his talent and make sure he’s part of the 36ers from here out,” he said.
Bijan Johnson returns for his third season with the Sixers. The 22-year-old point guard suited up for the 36ers five times last year, after recovering from an ACL the season before.
Johnson made his mark on the South Australian Premier League this NBL off-season, averaging 15.75 points, 3.19 rebounds and 4.17 assists.
Adelaide 36ers coach Joey Wright said he’s looking for Johnson to develop as a leader this year.
“He’s probably one of the fastest players in the league, so just containing that and refining it a little bit. Also getting him some leadership and ability to run the team, but I think there’s a lot of promise in his talent,” he said.
Victorian born Ben Ayre embarks on his first official season as a development player with the 36ers.
The 23-year-old point guard returned to Australia this year, following a four-year college career in the United States.
Ayre split his college career between Skagit Valley, Washington, followed by Newman University, where he started 28 of 29 games in his senior year, averaging 12.9 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.
In the NBL off-season, Ayre played for the Nunawading Spectres in the NBL1 before returning to where it all began in Adelaide.
“Ben Ayre is a guy from Melbourne that’s been a part of our club for a while. He’s been down to each training session with us for a year before he left to go to college.
“He’s been involved with the program, even when I was in the Gold Coast, so it’s great to see him return. He’s a very talented guard as well,” he said.
Wright is expecting big things from this development group.
“All the guys we pick are guys we feel can play NBL in the future. The guys we have now are probably the most talented set of DPS, so we look for them to develop into roles and come into the club and take over from the senior guys,” he said.
The Adelaide 36ers’ inaugural season at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre launches on Saturday, 19 October at 5.00pm against the Brisbane Bullets.