ILLAWARRA fans will get their first look at the Brian Goorjian-era Hawks in a preseason showdown with arch-rivals the Kings a month ahead of an anticipated NBL tipoff.
After one of the longest off-seasons in history, the final roster puzzle piece arrived in Wollongong this week, scoring machine Tyler Harvey joining recent NBA Draftee Justinian Jessup and St. Johns' alum Justin Simon.
They'll join former Cleveland Cavalier Deng Adel, veteran Boomer Cam Bairstow and rising Kiwi star Max Darling in a maiden hit-out in new colours, joining the returning Sam Froling, Emmett Naar and AJ Ogilvy.
While the club has a number of scrimmages planned in the coming weeks, the December 20 clash at Qudos Bank Arena will be the first official hit-out for the foundation club under a new coach and new ownership.
Goorjian, who endured the strictest of lockdown in Melbourne before shifting north to Wollongong, said he's excited to put a brand new team on the floor.
"Pre-season games are fun because everyone is a little rusty, a little nervous, but the enthusiasm of the players is always great," Goorjian said.
"They're like kids in a candy store knowing the real deal is just around the corner. I know for a fact the team is itching to get off the practice court and get into some competitive matches against quality opposition.
"We've got a bunch of new players, a new coaching staff, new ownership and a new sense of excitement about what lays ahead this season and we cannot wait to step foot on Qudos Bank Arena and test ourselves against a proven outfit like the Kings under proper game-like conditions."
Confirmation of the clash comes after the Kings confirmed the signing of former Memphis Grizzlies big man Jarell Martin, in the wake of basketball legend Andrew Bogut's retirement.
Last years' grand finalists' are also yet to name a head coach after Will Weaver departed to take up an NBA assistant coaching role with Houston Rockets, linking with the star of the Kings last campaign Jae'Sean Tate.
Despite the departures of Bogut and Tate, the Kings will welcome back the likes of Casper Ware, Shaun Bruce, Didi Louzada and Brad Newley and Illawarra product Xavier Cooks, while fellow Wollongong boy Angus Glover's first appearance in purple and gold will add further spice.
It's a roster likely to be far more familiar with each other than the new-look Hawks but Goorjian is looking forward to what his group can produce.
"There's always that 'gee we've been training a certain way all off-season, let's see if this works moment for players and coaches when they first hit the floor," Goorjian said.
"But I'm confident what we've been putting together over the last few months will hold us in great stead for whatever challenges come our way this season. I'm pumped for this season, and the fans should be as well."
The NBL is expected to announce a schedule for the season proper as early as Thursday.