The Rams are pleased to announce the signings of Marques Whippy, Tony Tolovae and Taylor Britt. The Rams are looking to continue to build their 2018 roster with the NBL season having a later starting date due to it being a Commonwealth Games year.
The Rams will add two high quality imports and the remaining squad members will be selected out of the Rams Summer League.
The objective of the Rams has always been to create a development pathway where there is a flow of players coming back from US College wanting to suit up for the Rams alongside other local players. This has started with Taylor Britt’s return and while still probably a season away from the initial goal, the change in NBL rules has fast tracked the Rams progression. Meanwhile the Rams will continue to operate a prudent financial model where resources are invested into the development
As part of the process of selection of the best available players in the area there will be an inaugural Rams Summer League held at Action Indoor Sports Hornby which begins on 7th of November and runs for 4 weeks over November. The Rams Summer League will include the top 40 players from Christchurch and the surrounding areas.
“The league will give us coaches the opportunity to watch players go head to head playing specific roles we would require them to play at the NBL level”, stated Rams head coach Mark Dickel.
There is strong young talent throughout Canterbury as demonstrated by the Canterbury Knights winning the Hoops Nation Tournament which included Marques Whippy, Tony Tolovae & Taylor Britt and the strong performance from Christ College finishing 4th at Secondary School Nationals which was the highest placed finish from any Christchurch School since 1999. All the top talent from both Canterbury and throughout surrounding areas will be invited to the Rams Summer League. At the conclusion of the Rams Summer League the Rams squad will be announced.
Marques Whippy has played for the Rams the past 3 years and is based in Christchurch permanently and coaches the Hillmorton High School team and leads the Youthtown Rams Mentoring Programme. Tony Tolovae now based in Christchurch permanently, re-signed with the Rams after being with the team in 2015 before spending time in the ANBL with the Illawara Hawks & Sydney Kings. Taylor Britt from Papanui High School was a Rams Development Player in 2014 & 2015 before spending 2 years at Southeast Community College in the USA. “We are very pleased with these core signing’s having players based year round in Christchurch and a player like Taylor who has come through our Mainland Eagles Academy and been a Rams Development player before going to US College and now going full cycle back in a Rams uniform”, stated Mark Dickel.
When establishing the Rams in 2014 it was always a priority to nurture the aspiring players throughout the region. The establishment of the Mainland Eagles Academy has helped with supporting 22 players from throughout the South Island to receiving US College scholarships. Part of this process was to support young people in pursuing their academic & athletic endeavours with the hope some of them would return to play for the Rams upon completion. Taylor Britt becomes the first player to return to the Rams since a US college stint and the Rams will be looking forward to more returning over the next 2-3 years.
The NBL rule now allows NBL teams to have 3 imports, with this rule also came a shift with pacific island players like Marques Whippy (Fiji) now being restricted players and classified as imports. “We made it a priority to re-commit to Marques with the change in the rules as he is the heart and soul of our team both on & off the court”, stated Mark Dickel. The Rams will be looking very closely at their 2 other import spots after the final kiwi roster spots are filled from players who play in the Rams Summer League.
With the announcement of the Rams core for 2018, Ethan Rusbatch is currently looking for opportunities outside of Christchurch. “Ethan is always welcome back to Canterbury and we are supportive of him to play away from home and continue to develop as a player like he has,” stated Mark Dickel.