The Hawke’s Bay Hawks have been busy recruiters as they look to bounce back from a disappointing 2013 NBL season.
The Tab Baldwin-coached side have made several key signings since they were last profiled on NZhoops, with Tall Blacks point guard Jarrod Kenny signing on for a sixth season, while Bay stalwarts Paora Winitana and Everard Bartlett are likely to join him in the starting lineup for another season after both were confirmed to be heading back to Hawke’s Bay for another campaign.
With Kareem Johnson confirmed as an import, it is looking likely that the Hawks will once again get another big man to fill their second import slot to create a quality starting unit, but their problems may lie on the wings, where it is looking like they may suffer from the departures of talented Kiwis Alonzo Burton and Dion Prewster.
At the moment, former Pistons combo guard Marco Alexander looks like he may suit up as the third guard in potentially a sixth man role, while Matt DeMarcus (son of former NBL import Tom), Darryl Jones and Matt Wilson will all be pushing to earn a starting spot.
DeMarcus in particular is an interesting case, being a high-school standout in America, averaging 16.3 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.5 steals for Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, before warming the bench for a college career at UCLA. If DeMarcus can produce at the NBL level, he could be an X-Factor for the Hawke’s Bay side, but otherwise, the Hawks may be reliant on their imports to push their usual cast of solid locals to a playoff berth.
After a 5-11 finish last season, you can be sure that those in charge of the franchise will be doing all they can to make amends with a top-four finish this season, but with other squads around the league seemingly getting stronger, the Hawks will have to be a far superior unit in 2014.