nick george 568Plymouth Raiders have acted quickly in hope of rectifying a disappointing campaign by announcing three signings for the coming season.

British duo Louis Sayers and Nick George will return to the Pavilions for another season while 5’11 point guard Josh Wilcher is a new recruit. The 23-year-old helped Reading Rockets to a treble in the EBL Division 1 this season and was named Player of the Year in the process.

Head coach Jay Marriott is sending out an early message by getting business done early as he begins preparation to avoid a repeat of this season. The Devon-based side slipped out of play-offs recognition on the final day of the regular season, finishing in ninth as the inferior team in a three-way tie with a 14-19 record.

However, there were positives, and two of them are returning. Sayers, 21, worked his way into the starting line-up while the vast experience of George proved a welcome boost when he joined the club in December.

The former GB forward was named to the BBL British Team of the Year while Sayers would certainly have been a front-runner for Young Player of the Year had there been an award in that category.

George has spoken of his desire to again play for hometown side Manchester Giants, but believes another season with the Raiders is the right choice, for now.

“I throughly enjoyed my time here in Plymouth. It’s a different pace of life which I appreciate. It wasn’t a tough decision to make because we share the same vision. I talked with a lot of teams but Plymouth was the best fit for me.”

He added: “I’ll do whatever is needed for us to win games. I think helping to develop our young talent will be something that could help the programme tremendously.”

As well as his key on-court duties, the 31-year-old will also play a bigger part off the court in a player development role with the club’s academy.

George averaged 14 points per game in his 21 appearances for the Raiders which earned him recognition as one of six players to make the BBL’s British Team of the Year.

Speaking of the achievement, he said: “It was an honour to be selected, especially with all the British talent in the league this year. Congratulations to all that made it.”

And George was also full of praise for his team-mate.

“(Louis) potential is through the roof. He’s got a good work ethic, understands the game and most importantly he’s a team player. He’s definitely one to watch.”

Sayers joined the Raiders at the beginning of the season as one of head-coach Jay Marriot’s own recruits. The former GB under-20’s player impressed with a solid campaign averaging 7.3 ppg with a 35% shooting average from 3-point range.

The 21-year-old was playing in his first season in the BBL having previously played for EBL side Hemel Storm and is already looking ahead to next season determined to improve.

He said: “I’m excited about the prospect of another year playing for a team and coach that believes in me. I think it’s going to give me the opportunity to really take my game to the next level.

“I feel like I played well (this season) and showed what I can offer, but I wasn’t as consistent as I know I am capable of so I want to make that right.

“My main focus is to improve my defence. It’s an area of my game that I want to improve until it’s one of my best assets. Aside from that, I just want to win and I’ll be working hard this summer to be ready and help us do that come September.”

Raiders’ turbulent season spanned way back to the summer when Gavin Love was dismissed as head-coach just weeks before the new season. Academy coach Marriott was promoted to take the reigns, but having inherited a roster not of his choosing, change was inevitable.

Andreas Schreiber, Chris Hines, Masse Doumbe, Mo Williams, Shane Walker and Trevor Setty all came and went for various reasons. And Sayers admitted that the carousel of players made it tough.

“I think it would be naive of me to say that it wasn’t difficult, but every team goes through their own difficulties and as a player it’s your job to deal with it.

He added: “I was gutted that we didn’t make the play-offs, embarrassed actually. Now that I know how it feels to miss out, I don’t want to be in that situation again.”

With such a long off-season ahead, it’s unusual for a team to have three signings confirmed in May, but Marriott is wasting no time in putting this season to one side and aiming to be fully prepared for September.

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