Cheshire Jets have replaced John Lavery as coach two weeks before the start of the new season, installing James Hamilton as their new player-coach.The 40-year-old American will come out of retirement to make a shock return to the sport, less than two years after serving a suspension following a positive drugs test.

It is understood that Lavery had been actively recruiting a new roster while awaiting resolution over the new ownership of the club.

But the first move from new Jets supremo Hadyn Cook – whose management group is also thought to include former coach Robbie Peers – has been to bring back Hamilton, who played for a number of BBL teams during his long career including London and Worthing, as well as having spells in Australia and Switzerland.

“I see myself somewhat as a player’s coach, and I hope that with my experience and basketball mind, I can help develop a team both on and off the court, give them the tools to survive, and also progress for the future of the Cheshire Jets,” Hamilton said.

“The situation that we are in, as a team, is a difficult one, given the circumstances that have been widely reported. Since taking up the position, I was given the task of recruiting players in less than a week. In doing so, I haven’t had much sleep, but I’ve spoken with coaches and players everywhere, here and abroad, pulling in every favour, to find the very best I can.”

Hamilton’s first signings are 43-year-old Shawn Myers, who returns to the club after being axed last year, and ex-Tigers guard Chez Marks.

Manchester make Giant moves

BBL new-boys Manchester Giants have announced their first six signings as top- flight basketball returns to the city after a ten year gap. As MVP previously revealed, David Watts will move from Worcester while coach Jeff Jones has lured his sons – James and Callum.

However Great Britain international Nick George has re-signed for Swiss League’s Lugano Tigers despite approaches from Manchester and Sheffield.

James Jones was part of the Mersey Tigers side who went agonisingly close to a clean sweep in 2011 before joining up with UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders last season. Meanwhile, younger brother Callum was an integral part of the Worcester Wolves side that finished third in the BBL Championship table last season.

Mersey Tigers’ forward David Aliu, who played a key role alongside James Jones in 2010-11, also makes the short move while point guard Stefan Gill, 28, is also no stranger to Jones, having played for him at Manchester Magic.

He then spent two years with MK (now London) Lions for two years and was a regular starter last season.

The list is completed by young forward Nathan Schall was another former Magic player before stepping up to the BBL with Cheshire Jets last season, along with ex-Magic duo  Jack Minister and Adam Slater.

Jones is also set to sign ex-Giants forward Mike Bernard, who appeared in Tuesday’s 107-64 friendly win over Rossendale.

Heat purchase second Holmes

Surrey Heat coach, Creon Raftopoulos has signed American guard, Chavis Holmes, who takes the third and final overseas player spot  after recent deals with Martelle McLemore and Frank Holmes on the BBL team.

The 26 year old started off at Virginia Military Institute (NCAA 1) with his twin brother Travis, earning First Team All-Big South Conference honors and a spot in the Richmond Times-Dispatch All-State Team. In 2009 the Holmes brothers became the NCAA’s all time leading scoring twins.

Holmes has since played for Hermosilio (CIBACOPA) in Mexico, Clavijo in Spain and Haukar in Iceland.

“Chavis’ versatility at the point guard and shooting guard position, along with his size, will give him no problems adjusting to the style of play in the BBL,” said Raftopoulos. “He comes here after a great college career and with two years of professional experience.”

Thomson lands in Worcester

Stuart Thomson is the latest recruit to the new-look side that Worcester Wolves’ Director of Basketball Paul James is putting together for the new season that begins in less than two weeks.

Cheshire-born Stuart is the younger brother of former Newcastle Eagles centre Andrew Thomson, who recently made a big-money move to Europe. Like Andrew, 24-year-old Stuart studied and played basketball at Catawba College in the USA, averaging 6 points and 2 rebounds per game in his final year.

James is pleased to be adding a promising British forward to his squad.

He said: “Stuart has had an interesting upbringing to his game. He represented his country at junior level, before taking the same path as his brother Andrew in going over to college in the States. He has put together some useful numbers which I will now be looking for him to carry over into his game at the Wolves.”

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