Head coach says it could be team's most important signing for upcoming season
SUMMERSIDE - The "Island" team in the National Basketball League of Canada has landed its man!
© Roger Crowley/CrowleyPhotos.com
Mike Williams, 44, drives to the basket.
Head coach and vice-president of player personnel Joe Salerno confirmed the signing of six-foot-eight and 235-pound power forward Mike Williams on Wednesday.
"Mike Williams could be our single most important signing for this upcoming season," said Salerno in a phone interview. "He (Williams) has just a tremendous background. He is a gentleman who played for me my second year with the Vermont Frost Heaves (of the Premier Basketball League, PBL) before our team folded.
"He's an extremely hard-working player, and one of the hardest-working guys you could ever meet."
NCAA Elite 8
Williams, 26, has compiled an impressive resumé, including playing in the NCAA Elite 8 with the University of Texas Longhorns in 2006.
"He's a tremendous player, unbelievable athlete and has tremendous pedigree," said Salerno. "He played in the 2004 McDonald's High School All-American Game with the likes of Dwight Howard, who plays (in the NBA) with the Orlando Magic, and Josh Smith with the (NBA's) Atlanta Hawks.
"He played two years with the University of Texas in the Big 12 (2005-07) before transferring to Cincinnati of the Big East (2007-09). We are very fortunate to have Mike."
Williams, who also played in Holland and is from Camden, Alabama, was a starter at Cincinnati, where he had an 11.9 points-per-game average and hauled in 5.7 rebounds a game.
"Mike Williams could be our single most important signing for this upcoming season. He (Williams) has just a tremendous background. He is a gentleman who played for me my second year with the Vermont Frost Heaves (of the Premier Basketball League, PBL) before our team folded. "He's an extremely hard-working player, and one of the hardest-working guys you could ever meet." “Island” team head coach Joe Salerno
"He can score the basketball, he can rebound the basketball and actually before the Frost Heaves folded a few years ago, he was leading the PBL in scoring at just over 20 (points) per game and was second in rebounding at 10.3 per game," said Salerno. "Any time you have the opportunity to sign 20/10 guy you are very happy."
The fact there is familiarity between Williams and Salerno worked in the "Island" team's favour, noted the head coach.
"I had a great relationship with Mike, and Mike did have other offers on the table within the NBL (of Canada), and also had turned down a few offers in Europe to come to P.E.I.," offered Salerno. "He's very excited about the opportunity."
And it won't take Williams long, predicted Salerno, to earn the respect of Prince Edward Islanders.
"The thing is fans are going to notice him just as much in the community as they are on the court," said Salerno, who is from Barre, Vt. "Mike is just the type of person that absorbs the atmosphere he is in.
"I can definitely see Mike being a fan favourite on P.E.I., without question."