Luke Nevill’s new Wollongong teammates reckon he’s a 2.18m exclamation point on their title aspirations.
Signed by the Hawks last week, Nevill is the tallest player in club history.
He is also the tallest player in the NBL this season, ahead of 2.16m Luke Schenscher and 2.15m Alex Pledger.
Nevill will make his debut in Wollongong colours in Friday night’s first-round clash with his former club Townsville at WIN Entertainment Centre.
Hawks import Gary Ervin and Nevill played half a season together with Townsville and are happy to be reunited.
‘‘It was definitely a surprise to see Luke here, but he’s going to be a great addition to our team,’’ Ervin said.
‘‘He brings a different element. He’s a full-time low-post presence and he can alter a lot of shots. Even if he’s not blocking shots, he’s altering shots and it’s harder for opponents getting into the paint.
‘‘Obviously he’ll help the rebounding. If he’s not getting the rebound, he’s still taking two people with him because he’s such a big guy to ‘box out’. That’s going to give other guys opportunities, even the guards, to get more rebounds.’’
Nevill has played with four NBL clubs in as many years and also had a stint with a team in the Taiwanese league.
‘‘There’s a great opportunity there for us and we need to utilise and maximise his strengths,’’ forward Dave Gruber said.
‘‘It’s a good opportunity for Luke to come in and assert himself. He’s definitely an imposing force in there and we have to find the best way to use him. We need to get him up to speed and on the same page with the group.’’
Nevill was living in California with his American wife when the Hawks called. He had other options but was attracted to Wollongong after speaking to team owner James Spenceley.
‘‘It gives us legitimate size for the first time,’’ Hawks coach Gordie McLeod said.
‘‘Luke has his strengths and we have to endeavour to put him in a position to use those.’’
Nevill will come off the bench against the Crocs.
Hawks centre Larry Davidson is making steady progress after knee surgery but is unlikely to play on Friday.
‘‘Luke’s going to help big-time in the paint. Rebounding is an area we’ve struggled in and he brings that size,’’ guard Tyson Demos said.
‘‘We’ve had a few injuries and people coming in, but the more sessions we have together, we’re making massive improvements.’’