Leave it to Wollongong coach Gordie McLeod to find the right way to welcome Hawks newcomer Malcolm Grant.
Signed as a replacement for injured import Lance Hurdle, Brooklyn-born Grant arrived in Wollongong yesterday and will train with his new teammates for the first time today.
The 185-centimetre guard played college basketball with Hurdle at the University of Miami and the pair remain firm friends.
Indeed, it was Hurdle who tipped off Hawks general manager Mili Simic about his former teammate’s availability.
McLeod, who is known for his work ethic and thorough attention to detail, greeted Grant by telling him he was already designing offensive plays for him. One of those is straight out of the Miami University playbook.
‘‘For him to tell me that on the first day, that he was looking at plays from my college games, that just gives me confidence,’’ Grant said.
‘‘It was unexpected, but it just shows that I’ve come into the right situation and I’m really looking forward to playing.’’
Grant finished his college career last year and had not ever been to Australia.
‘‘I’m just excited to be here and truly humbled by this opportunity,’’ the 24-year-old said. ‘‘I’m just very thankful to the coaching staff for giving me the opportunity.’’
Hurdle is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.
Grant will live with Hurdle in Wollongong and try to find out more about the Hawks’ rivals.
‘‘Lance is my best friend and I’m thrilled to be out here with him,’’ he said.
‘‘We always would say, ‘What if we were on the same team’. For this to actually happen, it’s a true blessing and I’m really excited and happy to be here.
‘‘I shouldn’t have too much trouble adjusting [to the Hawks’ playing style]. Of course there’s going to be an adjustment to the league and the style of play, but with Lance and the help of the coaching staff, it shouldn’t take that long.’’
Hurdle isn’t the only NBL import Grant calls a close friend. He grew up in the same neighbourhood as former Hawks star Gary Ervin, now plying his trade with Townsville.
‘‘Gary is like an older brother to me,’’ he said.
‘‘He lives right around the corner from me back in the [United] States. I grew up under him, we went to the same high school.
‘‘I basically idolised him. I spoke to him about possibly coming here and he spoke very highly of this league. [Melbourne’s] Jonny Flynn is another good friend of mine, so I know a few players in this league and I’m excited.’’
Grant is a powerfully built guard and doesn’t appear to be carrying any extra weight.
‘‘I’ve been working out every day, just staying ready,’’ he said. ‘‘I believe if you’re always ready, you don’t have to get ready. This opportunity has come up and I’m ready to take advantage of it.’’