On a team that is so far heavily laden with guards, the St. John’s Edge feel they’ve addressed a need up front with the signing of an NCAA Division I college product in 6-8 Nick Banyard.
“He’s a very intriguing player,” Edge interim general manager Carl English said this week. “He certainly fills a need. He’s very athletic … a very good scorer.”
As the Edge inch towards the opening of training camp Nov. 3 in Grand Falls-Windsor, the team was busy the past couple of days getting Texas native Banyard, who played out his college ball at the University of Central Florida, under contract, while also acquiring the rights to Guillaume Boucard from the Sudbury Five for cash considerations.
The leaves the Edge with 11 players on the roster. English, who’s busy getting himself ready for another season in the National Basketball League of Canada, said the goal is to bring 15 players into camp.
St. John’s will start the season with 12 players “for sure”, maybe 13.
“We’re not done yet,” he said. “There are still a few more pieces to come together.
“We’re heavy at the guard spot. Maybe there could be a trade or two. There’s still some time.”
In Banyard, the Edge are getting a player who started his NCAA career at New Mexico, transferred to Illinois State, where he graduated with a degree in sociology, before clewing up his college basketball career at Central Florida in Orlando.
Banyard made his pro debut last season with Rayos de Hermosillo of the Mexican league, averaging 13 points and seven rebounds through nine games.
“We need the size,” English said. “A lot of teams are going small now, but this guy is athletic, can run and can guard multiple positions.”
Currently, the Edge have seven guards listed on the roster, not including Boucard. They are English, Junior Cadougan, Maurice Jones, Drew Cushingberry, Kevin Zabo and returnees Jarryn Skeete and Desmond Lee.
If Banyard is an “intriguing” player, so too is the Edge’s lone centre listed on the roster, 7-2, 290-pound Satnam Singh, a former-second-round draft pick of the National Basketball League's Dallas Mavericks and the first player born in India to be drafted by an NBA team.
Singh has experience in the G-League, which is seen as the NBA’s minor-league arm, and has represented India internationally in three Asian championships.
English, last year’s league MVP, Cadougan, who was a starter on the two-time defending NBL Canada champion London Lightning, Jones, the 2017 NBL Canada rookie of the year, and 2012 NBL MVP Gabe Freeman are established stars in the circuit.
You could add the name of Boucard if the Edge get him under contract.
Toiling for the Niagara River Lions last season, the Montreal native, via Ottawa’s Carleton University, scored 14.1 points per game and his 7.9 rebounds a game were sixth overall in the league.
“He was tough to play against,” English said. “I liked how he guarded me. I really like him. He’s Canadian, too, which makes it even better.”
NBL Canada teams must have five Canadians on their 12-man active rosters.
Boucard, said English, was playing in Finland but was cut. He’s since resurfaced in the Czech Republic.
“The question is can we get him out of there,” English said.
Before the Edge hit the highway for training camp in central Newfoundland, players will be undergoing medicals Oct. 28-29 at Mile One Centre.
It’s around that time the Edge will be unveiling their new Nike jerseys. While St. John’s will continue to sport the blue and gold colours, a new jersey has been designed, in part because the league requires teams to have numbers on the front of their jerseys in addition to the back.