Wagga Heat will be bolstered by the inclusion of some American tall timber in 2019.
Washington product Matthew Brunell is set to join the side in February after signing on as Heat coach John Norman’s import player, rounding out their senior list three months out from the Waratah League season.
Standing at an imposing six-foot-eight, Brunell comes with the approval of countryman and former Heat player-coach, Eric Olsen, with whom Norman liaised to secure the big man.
“Eric had a huge role in turning Wagga basketball around when he was here and he knows what kind of player we need,” Norman said.
“So I said “hey, you know the style of person and player we need” and asked him if he knew anyone that might fit the mould.
“He came back with three players and Matt ended up being the guy for us.”
Brunell, 31, went undrafted in 2010 NBA draft despite an impressive college record with Eastern Washington and took to the wandering lifestyle midway through his studies
Short playing stints in Honduras, Spain, and Iceland have rendered him an experienced and worldly asset – one which Norman is eager to see in action on and off the court.
“I’ve had several conversations with him over the phone now and he’s come across as a very intelligent and very humble guy which is great because it’s more than just about being a player,” Norman said.
“There’s a big community element to the role but everyone I’ve spoken with says he’s a great team mate, good in the locker room and a real leader as well.
“He’s already put his hand up to do some volunteering and I think he understand what’s expected at this level.
“I mean, we could get any great player to come along and put up 40 points a game but we also want someone who can be a role model off the court too.”
Brunell will likely find a home at small forward or power forward in what shapes as the Heat’s strongest squad since 2015.
With returning stars Bobby Tye, Dom Tye and Matt Pearce joining Heat regulars Zac Maloney, Shaun Carter, Shanon Klein and Scott Hare, Norman will have his work cut out for him at the selection table.
“With Matt coming in, I think we’ve shored up our big man stakes really well now,” Norman said.