CAUTHORN RETIRES. RIDERS, LIONS HIRE

Todd Cauthorn has announced his retirement from Sheffield Sharks at the age of 39, bringing his long BBL career to a close.

Cauthorn, from Virginia, played NCAA basketball with the College of William & Mary in the Colonial Athletic Association conference before joining the Sharks in 1994.

But with family and work commitments taking up more and more of his time he decided leave on a high.

“It has been a decision I have thought about all summer,” he said. “In the end there were a number of reasons why now is the right time for me to retire as a professional player.

“I do so after playing as a starter in every game for a team that won the BBL Cup and finished runners-up in the league last season. My love for playing the sport hasn’t diminished, but in the end I had to make this decision with my head and not my heart.”

Kidney Op star Gardner joins Lions

Milton Keynes Lions have signed veteran swingman Jelani Gardner.

The 6’6″ guard-forward is from the United States but holds a French passport and plays as a Bosman player. The 34-year-old American is a graduate of the University of California where he played two years averaging 11 points and 6 assists per game and also at Pepperdine University averaging 14 points and 5 assists.

Gardner was widely considered to be a top 5 national basketball prospect in the United States and he was considered to be a player that had a shot at stardom in the NBA by most pro scouts.

But it was learned in 1995 that the then 19-year-old Gardner had kidney disease after he took a blood test as part of a pre-NBA Draft physical examination. Because of this he was unable to get drafted by any NBA teams.

He continued his college career and after it was over he was still not able to get any NBA contracts because of his kidney ailment. Finally, in 2002, after playing with kidney disease for 7 years, Gardner’s disease reached the critical stage and he received a kidney transplant from his mother that year.

Although he could never pass a player physical in order to sign with any NBA teams, Gardner has played professionally with clubs across the world such as Maccabi Rishon in Israel, the Fort Wayne Fury in the US, Basket Chalon in France as well as teams in France and Russia.

“I have had the pleasure of playing with Jelani before,” Lions Head Coach, Michael New said. “I vowed I would have him on a team I coached he will take us to a higher level.

“I think he will be a real treat for our Lions fans and the BBL. His pedigree is outstanding and he has been successful at every place he has played. Jelani’s versatility should create a problem every night, he can legitimately play the 1,2,3 spots on both ends of the floor and play those positions very well.

“At 6’6″, he can score, rebound, defend and his passing is a treat.  His life story can be made into a movie with his outstanding college career, high expectations of being a NBA lottery pick, and then came his health problem and his final rise back to playing professionally in Europe in some of the best leagues in Europe and also some of the best teams.

“We are really excited with the way our team is shaping up and most importantly everyone is coming in extremely hungry and ready to go.”

Warwick to Leicester

Leicester Riders have signed 24-year-old small forward James Warwick.

The 6’6″ newcomer spent much of his early career on the continent, having previously played in the EBL for Essex & Herts Leopards.

With German side Hannover Korbjaeger last year he posted 25 points per game earning him a switch to Pro-A league side UBC Hannover Tigers in January.

In 2008/09 he helped Wolfenbuettel Dukes to runners-up spot in the Germany’s Pro-B, averaging over 10 points per game for the side.

“James has some good European experience and has performed well in a few different places,” Riders coach Rob Paternostro said. “What impressed me about James is how hungry he is to succeed in the BBL.”

Newcastle Lock up Andre

Andre Lockhart, the Barbados national team point guard, has joined Newcastle Eagles.

The British-born 24-year-old graduated from NCAA Division II school Queen’s University of Charlotte earlier this year, before improving his fitness by playing the last half of the Barbados Premier League season for Lakers.

“This is really exciting for me because it has always been my dream,” said Lockhart.

“To take it from learning the game, to playing it as a hobby, and now to be paid for something you love is a real dream.”

Lockhart is likely to start for Newcastle in Friday’s friendly against Durham with Trey Moore stranded in the USA due to visa issues.

Riders land Kaka-d

Leicester Riders have added guard Rishi Kakad to their roster as their team for the new BBL season comes together.

Kakad was born in Luton and moved to America as a youngster, eventually moving to Wayland Baptist University in Texas where he led the team in scoring – with 16 points a game – and three-point shooting, netting more than 40 per cent of his long-range attempts.

“Rishi worked out for us in Leicester and performed very well. He is very creative offensively and showed us that he can play both guard positions,” said Paternostro. “He was a very effective scorer in college and can break people down with the dribble, which makes him a difficult match-up for opponents.”

“It’s exciting to work with talented young players who want to get better and I think Rishi is one of those players. He fits into the team we have put together because he is versatile, skilled and hungry for success at the professional level.”

Riders will play a touring USA Select side on Friday and Derby on Saturday, both at the John Sandford Centre at 7.30pm.

Wolves snare Lithuanian giant

Aleksas Zimnickas has joined Worcester Wolves as their Baltic ties continue.

The 6’8” Lithuanian power forward will join his new team-mates for training next week after agreeing a one-year deal.

The newcomer was raised in Canada and attended the University of Harford.

Rocks gamble on Barnett formula

Glasgow Rocks coach Sterling Davis believes London-born centre Hugh Barnett can tower above the BBL after completing the signing of the 6’9” rookie.

The newcomer joins the Kelvin Hall outfit out of American college Arkansas-Pine Bluff where he averaged less than 2 points and 2 rebounds a game.

However Davis is gambling on Barnett fulfilling his potential and giving the Rocks a massive presence in the middle.

“Hugh Barnett is a raw talent player,” the American said. “He has been blessed with not only size but also athletic ability and strength.  The job now is to get him to use these attributes the best way possible.

“He will definitely give us some much-needed added depth on the inside. It’s been a while since we have had a player of his stature with the Rocks.” Glasgow also re-signed Scott Russell.

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