The Melbourne Tigers have today announced the signing of Corey “Homicide” Williams, welcoming him back to the NBL as a Tiger, ending much speculation as to roster changes that would be made to bring them out of the NBL’s cellar. Whilst the likes of Julius Hodge and Donta Smith have been discussed frequently in online discussions about who the Tigers would add, the name Homicide always made the most sense as an impact player.

Former NBL MVP Williams will replace one of the Tigers two underperforming imports, in diminuitive point guard TJ Campbell. As the Sydney Kings also discuss a replacement for import Rod Grizzard, Williams’ name has been the topic of much conjecture, with the Kings ultimately publicly annoucing that he was not on their horizon (possibly because he had already come to terms in Melbourne).

Williams is an impact player with a flair for the dramatic — a characteristic not lost on opposing fans, who have often been on the wrong end of Homicide’s ability to surprise. His arrival in Tiger-territory will no doubt see a huge change in the style of play that the “family club” has employed this season. The decision to run with multiple bigs on the floor has been criticised by many and Williams’ injection may mean a totally different tempo to the offence.

Whether he can drag the Tigers from the bottom of the ladder remains to be seen — but I wouldn’t bet against him.

A press release from the NBL follows:

The National Basketball League is set to welcome back reigning NBL Most Valuable Player Corey ‘Homicide’ Williams after the Melbourne Tigers announced today they were in the process of adding the popular American guard to their roster for the remainder of the 2010/11 iiNet NBL Championship season.
The Tigers announced via media release today that they were planning to release American guard TJ Campbell and add Williams.  The man known as Homicide arrived in Melbourne this morning and trained with the team.  He is now awaiting visa approval. 
The club is hopeful that he will be cleared in time to play in the Tigers’ home game tomorrow night against last season’s champions, the Perth Wildcats.  The match tips-off at 8.00PM local time at the State Netball Hockey Centre (AKA ‘The Cage’).
Basketball Australia Chief Executive Officer Larry Sengstock said the return of Williams, who won the Andrew Gaze Trophy as NBL MVP of the 2009/10 season, was a huge boost for the NBL.
“We’re already enjoying a terrific start to the season, with attendance averages up significantly, stronger than projected ratings of our programming on ONE HD and Ten as well as excellent traffic figures to our on-line network of club and league internet sites,” said Sengstock.  “Adding a player of the calibre of Corey Williams to a competition that already includes stars like Shawn Redhage, Gary Ervin, Mark Worthington, Kirk Penney and Damian Martin ensures that the incredible standard of play on court we have seen already will rise even further. 
“We’re delighted to have Corey back with us and know that, with his amazing skills and outgoing personality, he will help bring even more basketball fans back to our game this season,” Sengstock added.
Williams said in a media release from the Tigers that he thought Melbourne were poised to improve on their 0-5 start to the season but that it would be a huge challenge for him.
“I’m very excited to be joining a club with such historic tradition as the Melbourne Tigers,” said Williams.  “Make no mistake! This will be the biggest challenge of my NBL career.”
“However, we will try by using our team concept and playing my part to turn this tough start of the season around and get into the finals. This is definitely a challenge I am looking forward to – better days are definitely ahead of us!”
Williams was a legitimate superstar during his three seasons with the Townsville Crocodiles and a fan favourite due to his irrepressible personality.  In 91 games for the Crocs he averaged 19.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists.  He parted with the Crocs prior to the current season in somewhat acrimonious circumstances, which should make his return to Townsville for the first time with the Tigers next Friday (26 November) one of the most eagerly anticipated clashes on the NBL’s regular season calendar.