London Lightning has struck twice - time to do it again
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So far, Lightning has struck twice in London.
Now, after the National Basketball League of Canada team’s most recent signings, they could be well on their way to a third straight league title.
And they may even have found a way to help Canada’s national men’s team along the way.
On Thursday, the Lightning announced they have come to terms with two shooting guards for the upcoming season, Garrett Williamson and Marquiz Baker.
Williamson, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Lower Merion, Pa. (a Philadelphia suburb) is a graduate from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. He led the Hawks in with 33 minutes played per game and averaged 12 points, four rebounds and four assists as a senior.
He was twice named to the Atlantic 10 all-defensive team. After graduating, he played a season in the NBA Developmental League for the Austin Toros. Most recently he played professional basketball in Germany.
But Williamson, 25, recently became a Canadian -- his mother, Shelly, is a Canadian who hails from the Toronto area.
“When speaking with Garrett’s agent, Steve Mountain, we uncovered the fact that Garrett recently acquired his Canadian citizenship,” Lightning general manager Taylor Brown said Thursday.
“Steve wasn’t aware that we require a minimum of three Canadians on our roster so we offered Garrett a contract on the spot. It was a huge surprise to both of us as I was going to bring in Garrett as one of our imports regardless. Garrett is a very athletic player that is a lock-down defender and it is exactly what we are looking for.”
Brown said Canada Basketball officials, including new general manage Steve Nash and head coach Jay Triano, will be pleasantly surprised with this news.
“Once Canada basketball finds out about Garrett’s citizenship, I would assume he would eventually be a candidate for the national team program in some capacity,” Brown said.
Brown said one of the Lightning’s major goals is to have three Canadians on the roster who can play “legitimate minutes.”
“Each and every year we try to improve the Canadian content on our team. With the addition of Antwi (Atuahene) last season and Garrett this season, we feel our Canadians will be key contributors.“
Mountain was introduced to Williamson by his friend, Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson. Mountain also represents ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith and several NHL players.
“Everything our research has shown is that they (the Lightning) make a total effort to do everything right,” Mountain said.
Williamson, meanwhile, said the chance to try out for the Canadian men’s team was a huge drawing card.
“That was pretty well one of the main reasons I wanted to come to London,” Williamson said in a telephone interview.
“Also, they have a winning culture, a winning team. That appeals to me a lot.”
Williamson said his strong suit is defence. “But I have been trying to expand my game.”
Meanwhile, Baker is a 6-foot-2 guard from Houston and it s recent graduate from Alcorn State University, near Lorman, Miss. He averaged 16 points and four rebounds per game as a senior and led the team with 35 minutes per game.
“Baker has a great work ethic and was a top three scorer in the Southwestern Athletic Conference,” Brown said.
Brown said there will be more major player announcements coming soon.
Training camp begins Monday, Oct. 7, and the regular season begins in Windsor on Nov. 1. First home game is the following night against the Mississauga Power. Game time is 7 p.m.