Ervin and Carson back the Hawks

Hawks captain Oscar Forman with new recruits Gary Ervin, left, and Jahii Carson.  Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

Hawks captain Oscar Forman with new recruits Gary Ervin, left, and Jahii Carson. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

BASKETBALL

He has only been back in town for a day but former NBL MVP Gary Ervin is already convinced the Wollongong Hawks are a championship-calibre team.

Ervin and fellow import Jahii Carson will be Wollongong's starting guards in the 2014-15 NBL season.

The pair join a strong nucleus of Oscar Forman, Dave Gruber, Tim Coenraad and Larry Davidson, in addition to off-season recruits Brad Hill and Adam Ballinger.

Free agent Tyson Demos is tipped to finally be re-signed this week, leaving one vacancy on the 10-man roster.

Former Sydney guard Shaun Bruce has been working out with the team, though it is likely that free agent Dominique Cooks, a former Illawarra junior, will be retained as 10th man.

Ervin says the rejigged Hawks should be aiming for the top.

The 180cm playmaker was a key member of the Adelaide team that lost last season's grand final series to Perth and wants to go all the way with Wollongong.

"I'm just hungry for it. I got a taste of it and I know what it takes to get there," Ervin said.

"I'm not worrying about top four, my mindset is championship.

"Every year in the preseason they have Wollongong [finishing] sixth or seventh or eighth, and for some reason they always find a way to get to the top four."

Ervin is thrilled about being reunited with Hawks coach Gordie McLeod.

He is excited about playing with a team of three-point bombers and expects to form a deadly backcourt partnership with the mercurial Carson.

"There's shooters all over the court and you've got two lightning-quick guards who can fill up the stat sheet," Ervin said.

"I study basketball so much, and Adam Ballinger's basically Oscar's twin. He's a pick-and-pop guy who can shoot it from everywhere on the court.

"It doesn't matter who [other teams] have on paper. It's how you play as a whole, and Gordie does a great job of getting his team to play as one. That's why he's [NBL] Coach of the Year."

Ervin has played professionally since 2008, lining up with the Hawks in 2010-11 and becoming the club's first NBL MVP in 30 years.

He is happy to be a mentor to Carson, who just missed being drafted into the NBA after two superb seasons with the University of Arizona State.

"It's going to be amazing [playing with] a guy who can fill up the stat sheet and who's so athletic," the 31-year-old said.

"I'm going to take that leadership role and show him, because he's very talented and he's going to help our team a lot. To play with a person like that in the backcourt, me being experienced and him being ... fresh out of college, there's a lot I can help him with on and off the court.

"He averaged around 20 points in college, but the pro league's a different game.

"I can give him little pointers about the league which will help him out and help our team out. It's all about winning."

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