WAGGA Heat player-coach Zac Maloney is confident the side will be far more competitive next season after good numbers at Saturday's player trials was further boosted by the return of playmaker Chaz Bishop.
Point guard Bishop, 21, developed through Wagga's system and played a season with Albury's NBL1 side this year.
After playing a small role off the bench, he will return to Heat as a go-to player and allow Maloney to move from point guard to his preferred shooting guard spot.
Maloney said numbers at Saturday's were around double before they were in his debut season as coach, where an extremely young side didn't win a game.
"We ended Ended up having 16 guys there with four or five who couldn't make it, but wanted to trial. I think last year we had maybe nine who rocked up, and we were chasing our tails straight away," Maloney said.
"A lot of our younger core returned, plus a few new guys, and we are getting Chaz Bishop back after a year playing at Albury.
"Just going off the trial alone we're miles ahead of where we were last year."
Maloney said Bishop's return would take pressure off his shoulders in the back court, but also give him more time to focus on coaching.
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"Chaz will come in and take a lot of pressure off myself. He'll take over the point guard duties, which will allow me to play more of my natural game and get down the floor," Maloney said.
"He's also going to bring experience and leadership, he's a very vocal player and will fit in well with the young core we've got.
"It gives me a chance to get down the other end of the court and give direction down there, and it frees me up to go the bench a lot more as well.
"Last year we lacked people bringing the ball up the floor and I played more minutes than I had to.
"I'll get to go back to the bench and take on the coaching role a bit more."
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