Storm’s makeover continues

Charles Reid
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NBL team trades for Famutimi, re-signs Williams

Building any professional sports team is a lot like Lego in that most parts are interchangeable.

And this off-season in the National Basketball League of Canada, the Island Storm is swapping plenty of pieces.

Newest to arrive is six-foot-six forward Canadian Olu Famutimi, who the Storm acquired from the Halifax Rainmen for its first round pick in Sunday’s draft.

Famutimi scored more than 13 points per game and grabbed more than six rebounds last season with Halifax. Famutimi was on Halifax’s six-man protected list and now the Storm has exclusive NBL negotiating rights to the Toronto native.

He must sign by Sept. 22 or he becomes a restricted free agent. If that happens, the Storm has the right to match any offer from another NBL team. Joe Salerno, Storm head coach and vice-president of player personel, said he and the organization is confident that’s avoidable.

“I spoke to Olu at the draft. He seemed high on the Storm and the organization,” said Salerno, who recently re-signed for fourth season behind the Storm bench. “We’re talking again (today). I’m confident we’ll give an offer he’ll consider. Hopefully get a deal done.”

Monday the team announced the re-signing of power forward Jeremy Williams.

“Jeremy was a priority for us to re-sign during this off season,” said Salerno. “He was a big piece of our finals run last season, contributing in multiple ways on both sides of the ball.

“He is a high character guy both on and off the floor for our organization. This entire summer we never wavered from wanting to bring J-Will back, so I am very pleased we were able to agree to terms.”

This will the six-foot eight forward’s third year in the NBL having played with the London Lightning two years ago.

Players that have left the Storm for other European markets this season include small forward Antonio Ballard, who led the Storm in scoring (21.56 points per game), Nick Okorie (19.03 points per game) and Steve Tchiengang, who placed sixth overall in total rebounds (356).

They signed with teams in Switzerland, Denmark and Romania, respectively.

The three were on the Storm’s protected list which gave them exclusive negotiating rights within the NBL, but not outside the league and means players can sign with any team in another circuit.

Still on the protected list is Adrian Moss, who finished second in the league in total assists (282) and Canadian forward Dwayne Smith, named to the East all-star team last season, who was third on the Storm in blocked shots (20) and fourth in total rebounding (213) off the bench.

Salerno said the Storm is working to ink those players to contracts before training camp starts in mid-October.

Signed players include second-year guard Shawn Vanzant, new power forward DaVon Haynes, rookie point guard Sammy Zeglinski, and two-time NBL all-star Chris Cayole, who’s returning to the Storm from a ruptured Achilles tendon injury. Another new part is six-foot-five guard Jordan Coleman from Valparaiso University, selected 12th overall.

Nick Evans and Charlottetown native Doug McKinney are also in the mix for camp, as is long-time point guard Al Stewart, who’s been with the Storm since the team’s inaugural season in 2011.

“We’re still talking,” said Salerno.

Organizations: Halifax, National Basketball League of Canada, London Lightning Valparaiso University

Geographic location: Toronto, Switzerland, Denmark Romania Charlottetown

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