It will be a story that goes down in folklore, for both the Sky Tower Auckland Huskies and the Sal's NBL.
While sitting and waiting for his flight (to Auckland) to board at LAX, star import Armoni Brooks received a call from his manager with an offer to join the Houston Rockets. As they say, the rest is history. Brooks across six games with the Rockets has averaged 17-minutes and 8-points per game.
What could have been?
As it is, the Huskies have since grabbed the signature of former NBA forward Chris Johnson, a quality addition to put with a team of very talented youngsters. Journeyman American Jeremy Kendle will also suit-up for the Huskies, but only for the first few games.
If Tom Vodanovich can get back from the ANBL sooner rather than later, and the Huskies can somehow land another import to replace Kendle, they won't be out of the running, but they do need some star power to put around this young squad.
Let's take a look at the season ahead for the Sky Tower Auckland Huskies.
THE HUSKIES ROSTER
Coach: Aaron Young
1. Chris Johnson
3. Chris McIntosh
7. Theo Johnson
8. Brook Ruscoe
9. Zach Riley
10. Kiani Saxon
13. Reuben Fitzgerald
14. Nick Barrow
15. Tom Vodanovich
21. Sean Murphy
24. Dontae Russo-Nance
25. Jackson Smyth
77. Jeremy Kendle
Chris Johnson is a bona-fide star. The 210cm forward cuts an imposing figure, and he has the athleticism to back it up. The 35-year old played 75 NBA games across four teams, while his international career is long and storied. Coming straight in from a gig in Bahrain, Johnson should hit the floor running and will be a player worth watching.
Tom Vodanovich took his game to a whole new level at the 2020 Showdown, and after originally being overlooked by ANBL teams he has since snared an Injury Replacement Contract with the Sydney Kings and gone from strength to strength. Vodanovich's rise in the ANBL has been an delight to see and it looks like now keeping him there for the full season. If the Huskies can get the Kiwi power forward back in time, Vodanovich is a massive x-factor to add to the mix midway through the season.
Brook Ruscoe is back! An outstanding junior and a former Tall Black, Ruscoe has missed a lot of basketball due to a hip injury (and what a story that is). But, the 30-year old is back and he'll be keen to help coach Aaron Young develop the next group of stars. Ruscoe's bubbly personality is exactly what this team needs from a vet, but at the same time Ruscoe will be eager to take his own opportunities.
The Huskies have gone very young, and that's a calculated risk they are well aware of. As the grind rolls on, younger players can hit the wall. Johnson, Ruscoe, Nick Barrow and hopefully a returning Vodanovich will help balance the squad, but the big risk here is just the overall lack of experience at this level.
With opportunity comes the chance to show your talents and that's exactly what so many of these young Huskies have the chance to do. Nothing to lose and everything to gain, and with a young coach just as hungry, the Huskies will play at break-neck speed and won't be afraid of anyone. There's rewards to be had with an attitude like that.
THREE THINGS THAT MUST GO RIGHT
MEMBERSHIPS & TICKETS
There's a lot to like about this schedule, it flows really well and doesn't have any long patches at home, or away. In fact it's probably the best flowing schedule of any team. A first up showdown with the Bulls is tantalising, while early home games against the Jets and Giants should be good contests. There is one tough period deep in the season when a back-to-back away double could prove difficult. But other than that, this is a good schedule that comes with no excuses.
Sunday April 25 | 7:30pm | @ Franklin Bulls
Friday April 30 | 7:30pm | vs Manawatu Jets
Sunday May 9 | 5:00pm | vs Nelson Giants
Friday May 14 | 7:30pm | @ Canterbury Rams
Sunday May 16 | 3:00pm | vs Southland Sharks
Friday May 21 | 7:30pm | vs Hawke’s Bay Hawks
Friday May 28 | 7:30pm | @ Wellington Saints
Saturday May 29 | 7:30pm | vs Otago Nuggets
Friday June 4 | 7:30pm | @ Taranaki Mountainairs
Sunday June 6 | 3:00pm | @ Hawke’s Bay Hawks
Saturday June 12 | 7:30pm | vs Franklin Bulls
Thursday June 17 | 7:30pm | vs Canterbury Rams
Saturday June 26 | 7:30pm | @ Southland Sharks
Sunday June 27 | 5:00pm | @ Otago Nuggets
Friday July 2 | 7:30pm | @ Nelson Giants
Sunday July 4 | 3:00pm | @ Manawatu Jets
Sunday July 11 | 5:00pm | vs Taranaki Mountainairs
Saturday July 17 | 7:30pm | vs Wellington Saints