Vincent Lavandier has decamped to France, taking three of Glasgow Rocks squad with him.

The Frenchman took the Scots to the brink of the British Basketball League title before coronavirus forced the season to be cancelled. But with the contractual terms of his departure from the Emirates Arena finally agreed, he was unveiled on Monday as head coach at Avignon.

And after Rocks captain Greg Pryor and centre Maxime Djo-Ebala agreed to join the LNB outfit, Great Britain forward Ali Fraser has made it a hat-trick by also switching to the south of France.

The Scot, 27, said: “I had probably the best season of my career under Vincent and knowing Greg and Max would be there too was a major bonus. I did speak to the Rocks and they did promise me a new contract.

“But they were very honest in saying they couldn’t say when or for how much with so much uncertainty surrounding the BBL. Whereas in France, everything is guaranteed and it’s a nice opportunity for me.”

Lavandier welcomed the reunion. “I think he will still improve with me,” he said. “He has not yet reached his maximum potential. He is an under-rated player. I think his best is yet to come.”

His own departure from Glasgow had been inevitable since the Rocks revealed plans to drastically cut their budget next season to cope with the financial squeeze. And his exit is very much by mutual agreement, suiting both parties despite the Frenchman’s success during his 16-month stint with the club.

“I am very disappointed that we have not been able to see through our project with Vincent,” Rocks chair Duncan Smillie said. “When the season came to an abrupt halt in March we were sat top of the championship and four points clear with only five games remaining.

“We will never know if we would have gone on and won our first-ever Championship, but we do know at the time the season ended that through Vincent’s leadership we were top. The level of professionalism and performance that Vincent brought to the Rocks has been exceptional, as a man and as a coach he has conducted himself with utmost professionalism he will be sadly missed and leaves with our best wishes.”

Lavandier, who is understood to have passed on n a rival offer to switch to Finland, admitted finances dictated his parting of the ways. “Unfortunately, with the current economic impact that the Rocks undergo, I found myself forced to leave…But I leave an organisation that gave me so much dedication, determination and sacrifice to become the best Rocks team of all time.”

Elsewhere, Sheffield Sharks have re-signed Canadian veteran Mike Tuck for his 12th season at the BBL club.

“It’s great to have Tuck back to start building that solid foundation,” said Sharks boss Atiba Lyons. “We are in conversation with quite a few players and I feel that we will be able to piece together an extremely strong unit with some key players heading into next season.”

Cheshire Phoenix confirmed Louis Sayers is not returning.

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