ILLAWARRA coach Rob Beveridge has likened the style of new import Demitrius Conger to that of club legend Glen Saville after the Hawks officially added the 27-year-old to their roster on Friday.
A veteran of four seasons in Europe, having played in Italy, Greece and Belgium, Conger becomes the second import on the Hawks roster alongside last season’s club MVP Rotnei Clarke.
Standing 6 ft 6 inches tall, Conger averaged 11.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 42 games in his most recent season with Antwerp.
Having waded through an extensive recruiting list, Beveridge said the St Bonaventure alumn immediately grabbed his attention.
“He came to us through an agent I trust, I looked at the guy and straight away he went on my shortlist. I said ‘that guy fits our mould’.” Beveridge said.
“He really, really reminded me of Glen Saville the moment I watched him. The ability to swoop on the glass, attack the rim, he likes to post his man up. He’s got good size on him, he’s got a 6 ft 11 wingspan.
“We had a checklist of what we were after, we wanted an experienced guy, versatile who could rebound and play defence. He plays with energy, he can rebound, he’s a complete player.
“He loves to get out on the fast break, loves to dunk in transition, attack the rim and he can knock down the open three. He’s got a good basketball IQ and I just know he can fit straight into our system.”
Last season’s MVP Jerome Randle and Melbourne United guard Casper Ware are former European league veterans who have thrived in the NBL in recent seasons.
He really, really reminded me of Glenn Saville the moment I watched him.
Having received inconsistent returns from young imports Marvelle Harris and Michael Holyfield last campaign, Beveridge looked to Europe to find a seasoned pro.
“I think Marvelle Harris is going to be a really, really good player but he was probably just a bit too young for us,” Beveridge said.
“For that reason, I wanted to have a more experienced type of player and I think if players can go to Europe they just mature so much faster.
“It’s a real grind over there, they play a lot of games, there’s a lot of travel and it really puts you in a good position to become a better player.
“Demitrius has played four years out of college and for anyone to continue to get offered jobs in Europe...it shows they’re the real deal and that they can play.
“A lot of players are one and done over there but he’s played in the top league in Greece, he’s played in Italy and most recently in Belgium. I know he’s hungry and he wants to get better.”
With all clubs stepping up their import game, Beveridge is confident the Hawks have got their recruitment right.
“We know we’re up against it with the bigger budget teams and we’ve got to make sure we buy the right stuff,’ Beveridge said.
“We feel to take that next step we need that person who can break their man down, get to the rim, get to the foul-line, rebound and be competitive and I think we’ve found it.”