Darius Defoe is back at Newcastle Eagles for a 17th successive season.

The veteran forward has been present for every one of the club’s 25 trophies in their history, standing alone following the departure of his former coach Fab Flournoy to the Toronto Raptors last summer.

Defoe’s victory in last season’s BBL Trophy Final also ties him with Flournoy as the most decorated player in the BBL who picked up medals at Sheffield and Birmingham before joining Newcastle.

He said: “It’s unbelievable to sign for my 17th season. I feel at home in Newcastle, the fans support and my family being here made this decision an easy one”, he said.

“The Trophy Final was incredible. With everything that was going on in the build-up and the odds that were stacked against us, to come out with the win was amazing and I think you could see that by how emotional I was at the end.”

The 36-year-old has backed the club’s decision to make Ian MacLeod the full-time head coach and also gave a nod of appreciation to MacLeod’s assistant.

He said: “It’s great to see Mac get the opportunity he deserves. There’s not that many first-year coaches out there that can say they have won a trophy in their first season.

“His hard work, dedication and commitment to ensuring we are all accountable was a testament to this.

“Also, a big shout-out to assistant coach Dave Forrester who has supported both the team and myself personally for all these years. His attention to detail and his dedication to us often goes unnoticed, but should never be underestimated.”

Elsewhere, Sheffield Sharks, as they feared, will need to find a new venue for this season after it was confirmed Ponds Forge will not re-open until April 2021 at the earliest.

The Yorkshire outfit have, however, acquired rookie American forward Kipper Nichols out of the University of Illinois.

Sharks coach Atiba Lyons said: “Kipper is a versatile forward that can do a bit of everything. He has the size to be effective in the post but can step out to mid-range or three-point range.

“I think he will help us tremendously on both ends of the floor. We’re excited to add him to our growing roster.”

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