© Submitted photo
Antonia Ballard of the Summerside Storm goes up for a basket during a National Basketball League of Canada game last season in Summerside.
The Charlottetown-based Island Storm have re-signed forward Antonia Ballard for the upcoming season, pending FIBA clearance.
Ballard, a six-foot-five small forward, fractured his foot in February and missed the final 19 games last season with then Summerside Storm, but was still named a National Basketball League of Canada first team all-star.
The Lexington, Ky., native, who played at the University of Miami at Ohio, recorded 16 double-doubles in 31 games last season, and averaged 14.9 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.
Joe Salerno, Storm head coach and vice-president of player personnel, said Ballard is a true workhorse.
“This will be one of our biggest signings this season. Tone (Antonio) was one of our top priorities when it came to re-signing players from last season’s roster. He was one of the top rookies, if not the top rookie, in the NBL last season,” said Salerno.
“We are looking forward to having a healthy Tone back for a full season. He is as blue-collar type of player as you will find. He comes to work every day with his hard hat, and lunch pail, and does all the little things that are often overlooked in the box score. Not only will Antonio be one of the top rebounders in the league, he is a tremendous defender. This is a big piece when it comes to reaching our goal of an NBL championship this season.”
Ballard, despite his mid-season injury, was named a starter for Team Atlantic in the 2013 NBL All-Star Game, where he scored 28 points and pulled in 11 rebounds.
The Storm franchise moved to Charlottetown from Summerside over the summer.
The Storm team finished seventh in its first season on the P.E.I. but rebounded last season to win the Atlantic Division title before losing to London in the league championship series.
The team’s training camp is slated for mid-October at a not-yet-determined location.
The Storm opens the regular season versus the Saint John Mill Rats on Saturday, Nov. 2, at the Civic Centre. Game time is 7 p.m.