Gordie McLeod filling gaps in Wollongong Hawks roster

Wollongong Hawks coach Gordie McLeod lays down the law. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO

Wollongong Hawks coach Gordie McLeod lays down the law. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO

BASKETBALL 

Wollongong Hawks coach Gordie McLeod hailed last week's trip to America as a success and has narrowed down his list of potential import recruits for the 2014-15 NBL season.

McLeod spent four days scouting and coaching at the Worldwide Invitational Camp in Las Vegas, knowing he has to piece together a new starting backcourt duo to replace Rhys Martin and Rotnei Clarke.

"The mini-camp was very good," McLeod said.

"When you go to something like that, there's obviously a lot of talent around and there's a lot of rookies around, but there's also a lot of agents and a lot of coaches.

"Obviously there's a wish-list of players that you're trying to work towards and we're working through that process."

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Martin, a free agent who played for Australia against China in June, is keen to take advantage of his Irish heritage and play in Europe.

American guard Clarke captured NBL MVP honours last season but turned his back on the Hawks' offer to return, choosing to sign a contract with a Belgian club.

Wollongong have six players under contract for next season, not one of them a guard.

Hawks free agent Tyson Demos is training with the team and all but certain to re-sign, but he will be the only legitimate guard on the roster.

McLeod is set to run with an all-American starting backcourt next season.

"We're pretty close to having our Australian nucleus together and we're working on our imports to complement that," the 2013-14 NBL Coach of the Year said.

"Our situation as a club has changed with Rhys's decision to look at going to Europe. It's changed our focus with regards to our imports, because that's obviously a big part for us to fill and we'll have to fill that with an import, because there's not really any established Aussie point guards out there.

"We're looking more at the point guard spot and possibly a combo [combination] guard."

McLeod insisted Martin had the club's blessing to seek a fat European contract.

"Rhys has been fantastic for our club and obviously he's helped our club enormously over the years he's been with us, and we feel we've helped him improve his game," he said.

"You don't want to stand in the way of an opportunity for them to better themselves, and if it's a good opportunity we totally understand that. It's just part of professional sports."

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