The SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks continues to build its impressive 2021 playing roster with confirmation that American Daniel Alexander will add the Sharks to his already impressive playing resume for the upcoming Sal’s NBL season.
The 29-year-old power forward’s career is highlighted by two years in the NBA G-League, including winning the 2017-18 Championship with the Austin Spurs, following a college career at Texas A&M and Grand Canyon. He has also had stints playing in Australia, where he won a SEABL title with the Mount Gambier Pioneers and, most recently, time in the Swedish National League before a knee injury cut short his 2019 campaign.
Covid-19’s impact on international competitions meant his 2020 was a disrupted one, but he has jumped at the chance to play in New Zealand under Head Coach Rob Beveridge.
“I’ve long been a huge fan of Coach Bevo and I’ve been looking for an opportunity to play for him. We came close when he was coaching the (Illawarra) Hawks in the ANBL and I’ve had teammates (which include former Shark Jeremy Kendle) who have played in New Zealand and have nothing but good things to say,” Alexander said.
“Everyone tells me how great the Sharks’ community and organisation is and I just want to come in and make a positive contribution. I really do feel like the stars have aligned to get me to New Zealand to play for Coach Bevo,” he said.
Beveridge is elated to finally get to work with Alexander, after many years of trying.
“I have watched and followed Daniel since my days coaching with the Perth Wildcats. Southland not only has a great player in Daniel, but an even better human being,” Beveridge said.
“Daniel is a 6’9 athletic and versatile forward who can play multiple positions with the ability to play inside as well as being an exceptional three-point shooter who can also get to the rim off the dribble. I have no doubt that everyone in Southland is going to love having Daniel as part of our team on and off the court,” he said.
Alexander is hugely thankful to secure a quality opportunity at the Sharks in a very disrupted international playing environment.
“The life of a professional basketballer is season-to-season. Finding a spot on a team where you can stay for multiple years with stability isn’t easy. And when you add in COVID it’s been tough. You just need to be ready when the opportunity comes and I’m ready,” Alexander said.
The news of the American's signing comes as the New Zealand National Basketball League finalises its application to Immigration New Zealand for import players to be granted critical worker exemption for the upcoming 2021 season.
Sharks General Manager Jill Bolger knows better than anyone the importance import players bring to the Sal’s NBL and to her organisation.
“I think they are vital. These players bring enormous value to the League and you could pick any year of the past 39 NBL seasons to see the impact they have on the entertainment spectacle, on raising and developing our local New Zealand players and financially by bringing fans through the door.”
“I know Sharks Fans will agree when I mention names like Rene Rougeau, Kevin Braswell, Brian Conklin, Nick Kay, Mitch Norton, Todd Blanchfield, Jarrad Weeks, Conor Morgan and Orlando Coleman, just to choose a handful. They have all been major parts of our Sharks’ story these last ten years, so I see them as the definition of critical,” Bolger said.
Sal's NBL General Manager Justin Nelson is coordinating the ten-team application.
“The value and importance of international players to our teams and the League is undeniable. These players are critical to the competition if we are to continue growing this League, and we are following every direction being provided to us,” Nelson said.
The League’s submission for critical workers has been sent to Immigration NZ this week with the 2021 Sal’s NBL tipping off on April 24.
The SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks open their season on the road in Nelson on Monday 26 April with its first home game at ILT Stadium Southland against the Taranaki Mountainairs on Thursday 29 April at 7:30pm.