BBL LOGO 568Former BBL star Steve Dagostino believes Leicester Riders have struck lucky by tabbing Mike Black to replace compatriot Anthony Downing, who was ruled out for the remainder of the season with a jaw injury.

The American point guard was the leading scorer for the University of Albany in NCAA D1 last season and arrives in the UK highly recommeded by a former BBL great.

Black has been working with former Sheffield Sharks’ star Dagostino as part of the ‘Dags Basketball’ programme with agent issues preventing him joining a team at the start of the season.

Dagostino said: “This is a great move for Mike. Leicester is a great organization, but most importantly he will be playing for Rob (Paternostro) with whom he can communicate and learn from quickly.”

He also believes that his client is capable of filling the void left by Downing, who was enjoying a solid rookie campaign.

“(Mike) is a great ballhandler, who plays well in the ball pick. He also has a knack for making big plays. He hit the game winner to send (Albany) to the NCAA Tournament last year as well as another game winner vs the University of Washington.”

Dagostino turned down the chance to join the Riders last season but remains in contact with head coach Rob Paternostro.

On his involvement in the deal, the 2011 BBL Cup Final MVP said: “I don’t know if I played a big role, I think Mike’s resume and film did most of the convincing, but I spoke with Rob at length about Mike and it is always good to have someone who is familiar with the league to give a recommendation.”

Speaking in an interview during the summer about his basketball programme, Dagostino highlighted Black as having ‘great potential in Europe’ and is pleased to see the 23 year-old given his first chance to impress.

“I’m happy that Mike will get his first shot to play overseas, not only is it a great first stop, but it is a place where he can thrive. Rob’s system fits a team-oriented player like Mike to the T. It is extremely hard to step in midseason and have an impact, but I expect that Mike is up for the challenge. Hopefully they use the second half of the season to peak at the end of the year for the Trophy, Championship, and Playoffs.”

Black will be ineligible to compete in the BBL Cup Final when Leicester take on Newcastle at the NIA on 12th January.

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