Today the Sydney Kings have announced the signing of Australian point guard Aaron Bruce. Formerly of Baylor University, the arrival of Bruce in Sydney has been rumoured in basketball circles for some weeks now.
The 6’3″ Bruce joins a point guard rotation that already includes Luke Martin and Luke Cooper, both who played the position in Sydney last season.
“He will give the Sydney Kings substantial depth on the court,” Head Coach Ian “Moose” Robilliard said.
“He has been playing basketball in Australia and the USA for the enjoyment and as a professional since he was five years old and, for my money, is one of the most underrated players in the NBL. We are going to give him some room to grow and show the fans his full potential,” he added.
“While playing with the Baylor Bears, Aaron averaged 12.5 points, 29 minutes, and hit 40 percent of his 3-pointers per game in his four-season college career. He was also a three-time All-Big 12 pick who started 106 games for Baylor.”
The Kings are now stacked with mid-level talent at the point guard position, indicating that an import floor general is unlikely. Word has it that attempts to woo 2010/11 NBL MVP Gary Ervin have been unsuccessful, with the likes of Adelaide and Townsville being more likely destinations, if anywhere within Australia.
In addition to the three point guards, the Kings currently have shooting guard Ben Madgen, forward Graeme Dann and star big man Julian Khazzouh tied up for next season. The most likely import candidates would be a swingman and a power forward to help Khazzouh out down low.
Bruce is a player still with plenty of potential to improve. After a successful NCAA career, he played for the Adelaide 36ers in two separate stints, interspersed with some time living in the US with his wife, who he met at Baylor. Accordingly, Bruce has yet to find stablility in the NBL, which may be gained through a full off-season of training for the Kings going into this season. He has the ability to both hit the outside shot and set up the offence for other members of the team, making for a solid set of point guard skills. I would not be surprised to see him build a very strong NBL career, playing upon those strengths.
And he certainly has said all of the right things upon arriving in Sydney, showing that he has some grey matter between the ears:
“Some of my idols, and the best Guards Australia has ever seen, played and were successful with the Sydney Kings; including Shane Heal, CJ Bruton, Jason Smith, Steve Carfino, and Damien Keogh. It is an honour just to join that company and, hopefully, continue the proud tradition this club has,” Aaron said.
“I have heard it said that it is sometimes difficult for a player to adopt to the different cultures and styles of basketball when they transfer form club to club; but I think the move to the Sydney Kings will be quite easy for me. Ian Robilliard is a great person and an excellent communicator. He has very passionate but clear standards when it comes to what he expects – trust, honesty, and your best effort no matter what you’re doing. If you can’t adopt these attributes then you probably won’t go far no matter what you do,” he added.
“I am really looking forward to meeting all my team mates and creating the bond that great teams have. On the court, this starts with committing 100 percent to a standard of excellence; competing with but encouraging every player; seeing their growth and improvement; then, of course, the bi-product of all of that, winning with your team mates.
“Every team says that they look forward to, or want to win, but the great teams understand you have to look forward to the work it takes to be a winner. I look forward to that work. That is fun to me and sharing all of that with the team is why I love this game so much.
“Every player has their strengths. I love basketball and I love to work hard. I was able to refocus myself over the last year and I definitely feel a renewed vigour when it comes to practice and training, I want to win and I want to get better every day. I feel like I have the ability to both score and to be a threat myself; but I love to create opportunities for others in a number of different ways.
“As an Adelaide 36er playing against the Sydney Kings last season, I was impressed by the passionate and loyal support of the fans. Sydney crowds are the best and the Kingdome is by far the best place to play in the NBL. No contest. It was awesome! The fans will now be screaming for me and my team rather than at me so I am even more excited to play in front of all the loyal royal subjects (Kings fans) this coming year,” Aaron said.