The newest players on the St. John’s Edge are not on the team’s active roster, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be seeing any action soon.
The Edge made two moves just before the National Basketball League of Canada’s trade/transaction deadline Monday night, acquiring power forward/centre Antony Stover in a deal with the Niagara River Lions and signing small forward Xavier Ford.
Since St. John’s 12-man playing roster was already full, Stover and Ford have been placed on the inactive list, filling two available slots there. Before Tuesday, injured guard Colton Ray had been the only player officially listed as inactive for the team.
“We felt we need at least one or two more (players) to solidify some holes and make sure we’ve got some insurance, to be honest with you,” said head coach and general manager Jeff Dunlap on Tuesday after the Edge (18-10) arrived in Kitchener, Ont., where it finishes off four-game road trip with a matchup against the KW Titans (4-20) tonight.
“We’re happy with those two pick-ups and I wouldn’t be surprised if you see them on the active roster before too long. They can help.”
At 6-11, Stover immediately becomes the tallest player on the Edge, one who brings the reputation as a strong rebounder at both ends of the floor and a stellar shot-blocker. If fact, he was named the NBL Canada’s defensive player of the year in 2016 after his first season in the league.
The 28-year-old Californian came into the NBLC with the Saint John Mill Rats and remained with that team (since renamed the Riptide) until last month, when he was traded to the River Lions for a first-round draft pick. However, he never played a game with Niagara.
Before turning pro in the NBA-D League (now the G-League) in 2012, Stover spent two years at UCLA, which is also Dunlap’s alma mater. However, the St. John’s coach says that didn’t play into the decision to swing a deal for the big man.
“What it was is that we played against Stover early in the year (when he was with the Riptide) and I was really impressed,” said Dunlap. “He’s tall and lanky and blocks shots.
“We were always kind of needing that tall anchor who could do some things for us. So, we looked at (getting) him in December, but we couldn’t get the deal done on time to bring him on board.
“The next thing is he’s traded to Niagara, but doesn’t get activated. We checked with Niagara coach (Joe) Raso and he said it had nothing to do with Stover. It had to do with them having a limited amount of transactions, which meant they weren’t in a position to activate him.
“So, they kept him on the shelf for three or four weeks. Then, based on other moves they made (Monday), they decided they’d be willing to trade him for basically just money.”
Dunlap’s college connections did have a role in the acquisition of the 25-year-old Ford, who played four seasons at the University of Buffalo before joining Grand Rapids of the G-League. However, the 6-7, 210-pound forward most recently was playing in Europe
“We’re really fortunate that we fell into him,” said Dunlap. “He was in Luxembourg, but a situation with his team there forced him to leave on his own.
“When he became available, we were quick to move on that.”
Ford, who is from Colorado Springs, was the MVP of the Mid-Atlantic Conference tournament in 2015, helping Buffalo (whose roster also included Edge guard Jarryn Skeete) into the NCAA tourney.
“A coach I worked with at North Carolina State (Levi Watson) coached him in college and he also played with Jarryn in college, so we got a quick character reference and connected the dots,” said Dunlap of Ford, who was averaging nearly 21 points per game with AB Contern in Luxembourg’s top league.
“I think he’ll be sensationall, I really do. I anticipate him making an impact.”