Veteran point guard signs with P.E.I. pro basketball squad

Jason Simmonds
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Al Stewart no stranger to team’s coach

SUMMERSIDE —  The Prince Edward Island franchise in the National Basketball League of Canada has added another important piece to its puzzle for the 2011-12 season.

The yet-to-be-named club, which will be based out of Summerside, has announced the signing of Al Stewart, 27.

“Al is a veteran point guard that I believe every team wants,” said Joe Salerno, head coach and vice-president of player personnel for the P.E.I. team. “Al played at Drake University. He (Stewart) is from Chicago, born and raised there.”

Drake University, located in Des Moines, Iowa, is an NCAA Division 1 school in the Missouri Valley Conference.

“He (Stewart) is actually known as perhaps the quickest player to ever come out of Drake University,” said Salerno. “He is a lightning-quick point guard, a true floor general, someone that can run the team and will probably be our best perimetre defender.”

Salerno also announced the signing of six-foot-eight and 235-pound power forward Mike Williams of Camden, Alabama, on Wednesday.

“With Mike Williams and Al Stewart under contract . . . I am confident in saying that having those two signed with P.E.I. out of the gate makes us a contender in the NBL (of Canada).”

The five-foot-10 and 185-pound Stewart previously played pro with the Manchester Mill Rats, now Saint John Mill Rats, in both the American Basketball Association (ABA) and the Premier Basketball League (PBL). 

Salerno also coached Stewart with the PBL’s Vermont Frost Heaves during the 2009-10 season. Stewart is a former co-defensive player of the year in the PBL.

“When I received the (P.E.I.) job, there were two point guards in my mind,” said Salerno. “Really, going with either one of them would have been a huge success, and Al Stewart was one of those guys.

“Just to have the comfort level of an experienced veteran point guard coming to Prince Edward Island, someone who is comfortable in my system, knows my system is a great situation for us.”

Salerno is continuing to sign players to the 12-man roster, which also must include two Canadians.  

Training camp is expected to begin the second week of October and the team’s home opener is Thursday, Nov. 3, at 7:30 p.m.

Organizations: Drake University, Premier Basketball League, National Basketball League of Canada American Basketball Association NCAA Division

Geographic location: SUMMERSIDE, Prince Edward Island, Chicago Des Moines, Iowa Missouri Valley Camden Canada

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