The Auckland Huskies have made a major move ahead of the 2021 Sal’s NBL season.
The Huskies first signing is hugely significant with Tom Vodanovich, one of the biggest names on the NBL free agency list, agreeing terms with the club.
Vodanovich is coming off a hugely successful 2020 NBL season. Named the Sal's NBL Showdown MVP, the Tall Blacks forward averaged 21.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game as he carried the Manawatu Jets to the Grand Final. His many outstanding performances included a 43-point outing against the Franklin Bulls.
Head Coach Aaron Young is delighted that Vodanovich, heavily courted by a number of other clubs, has committed to the Huskies.
“Tom’s coming off a huge season with the Jets. The way that his game is progressing he is putting himself in a position to be one of the best players in New Zealand," said Young.
“I’m delighted for him to be involved with our team, and I think he will be a great leader of our group. He holds guys accountable and he competes at both ends of the floor which I’m excited about.
“When Tom was a Development Player with the Breakers I was still working with them as their video coordinator so I’ve seen the volume of practice he puts in and the work ethic that he possesses.
“He is someone who spends a lot of time working on his craft. He is someone who has got better every year and he has proven that he can get it done at the next level.
“When Tom and I spoke about next season I said that I wanted to put him in a position where he is controlling the offence. His role will be massive and I wouldn’t just say that to anyone but I feel he is capable of carrying our team.
“He is a team first guy, and we got to see that this year, but I think he is capable of elevating his game even further within our group,” added Young.
Already having a relationship with Huskies General Manager Matt Lacey and Head Coach Aaron Young was a big part to Vodanovich committing to the Huskies.
“Matt and I played on the Junior Tall Blacks together and I know Aaron from our time together at the Breakers,” said Vodanovich.
“Aaron has done some pretty incredible things with his college teams and the New Zealand programme. I know he is completely qualified for a job like this and he is ready to take it on, we’ve all seen his success and getting a chance to build something from the start is exciting.
“I know he is the guy for the job so I’m looking forward to getting under his wing and developing my game leading up to the season so that we hit the ground running in that first fixture.”
Vodanovich was pleased with his form in 2020 and the accolade that came with it.
“I had a really good season and I was proud of winning the MVP Award. Not receiving any offers to play in the Australian NBL has left me hungry to create further opportunities in the future. Although winning a championship with the Huskies is obviously the priority getting my game back to that level is important."
Vodanovich has five Tall Blacks caps to his name at present and thinks playing a prominent role for the Huskies will strengthen his claims for selection for the Asia Cup Qualifiers in February and further recognition beyond that.
“We will have a young group of players who will be hungry for those internationals spots. If I can continue to be part of that group for a few more years that would be awesome.”
The 26-year old is keen to provide the Huskies with the on-court leadership Coach Young requires.
“In that short season we had earlier in the year, and previous NBL seasons, I have taken on a growing leadership role. I think the Huskies will be a good group of guys, with a lot of young players and I think I can step up and help them. It’s something I’ve taken a lot of pride in and I’m looking forward to it," added Vodanovich.
Auckland Huskies expect to make further player announcements in the near future.
The Huskies open their 2021 Sal’s NBL campaign with the Battle of the North game against the Franklin Bulls on Sunday April 25th.
See Tom Vodanovich and the team live at every home game by purchasing your Auckland Huskies season tickets right here www.aucklandhuskies.co.nz/2021-memberships/