Clarke to return as Hawks looking to the future

HOT SHOT: Hawks guard Rotnei Clarke in the NBL grand final series against Perth. Clarke's contract extension has been confirmed. Picture: Paul Kane/Getty Images

HOT SHOT: Hawks guard Rotnei Clarke in the NBL grand final series against Perth. Clarke's contract extension has been confirmed. Picture: Paul Kane/Getty Images

IMPORTS Marvelle Harris and Michael Holyfield are officially free agents, as Rotnei Clarke’s return next season was confirmed by the NBL on Monday.

Clarke signed a two-year deal, but under the terms of the contract, it was up to the club to take up the option to play again in Wollongong next season. 

The 27-year-old was the biggest success story of the Hawks’ campaign.

After struggling for form in the early rounds, Clarke lifted Illawarra to the NBL grand final series, where they were beaten three-nil by Perth. Harris, Holyfield and experienced shooters Oscar Forman and Tim Coenraad are the only players to be officially on the free agent list.

In contrast, Melbourne and Sydney only have four players each contracted for the 2017-18 season.

Adelaide NBL MVP Jerome Randle is another uncontracted, as well as Nathan Sobey and Perth star Casey Prather.

Harris and Holyfield produced mixed form and are unlikely to play with the Hawks again next season.

Coach Rob Beveridge is expected to head to the US on a scouting mission later this year, in a bid to add the final pieces of the Hawks’ championship puzzle.

Cody Ellis, AJ Ogilvy, Rhys Martin, Kevin White, Mitch Norton and Nick Kay are all contracted with the Hawks.

Clarke missed the Hawks end-of-season awards night, where he took out the club MVP trophy, as he left Australia to prepare for a short sting in Italy.

The guard has signed with struggling Lega A outfit Vuelle Pesaro, near San Marino.

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