Illawarra’s veteran recruit David Andersen has spent the off-season training with ex-NBA superstar Andrew Bogut – and will be entrusted by the Hawks to shut down the Sydney Kings marquee signing.
The Mercury can reveal Andersen has been involved in private one-on-one sessions at Bogut’s house in Sydney in the weeks after lifting the 2017-18 NBL crown with United – and since the 2015 Golden State Warriors NBA champion returned to Australia.
The Bogut sessions include a private court, as well as pool and recovery facilities, the perfect build-up for the 37-year-old to return to Wollongong, 20 years after making his NBL debut for the Hawks.
Andersen has played at four Olympics, as well as a successful career in Europe and in the NBA with Houston, Toronto and New Orleans.
Hawks general manager Mat Campbell was a third-year player at the Hawks when Andersen arrived as a highly-rated 1998 rookie.
“I remember it well, it was the first season we moved to the entertainment centre,” Campbell, who won the NBL championship with the Hawks in 2001, told the Mercury.
“There was a real buzz about the club and future and this young guy came in and you knew he was going to be a star.
“He brings great experience, he’s done it all in Australian basketball, he’s versatile and played in just about every big league in the world, including the NBA.
“Having the older head on the roster will be vital in a league which will be more competitive and with more talent than ever.”
Bogut already has a huge presence in the NBL, with the Kings sending shockwave around the league after their recent years of failure to make the finals.
Doubt crept in about how the Kings’ rivals would handle Bogut, as well as the likes of Kevin Lisch and Jerome Randle.
Campbell is confident the combination of AJ Ogilvy and Andersen will be well equipped to stop Bogut.
“AJ is the best centre in the league, he certainly was before Bogut arrived,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of faith in AJ and having Andersen there to support him will be a huge benefit.
“David is versatile, he can shoot and he can defend, so he’ll ask questions of other defences in a lot of different ways.
“He’s a remarkable player, we’re delighted to have him back after 20 years.”