Ulm, Brindisi Bolster Frontcourt

23.07.2014

EUROCHALLENGE

Maarten Leunen
Maarten Leunen is the latest addition to the roster of EuroChallenge club ratiopharm Ulm

Enel Brindisi and ratiopharm Ulm, two teams that will cross swords in Group A of the EuroChallenge regular season, have taken important steps to strengthen their frontline.

The Italian club announced on Tuesday that it penned a deal with 28-year-old James Dixon Mays, who arrives from the Philippines league champions, San Mig Super Coffee Mixers.

Mays, a 2.06m center, was born in the USA but also holds the nationality of the Central African Republic and represented the country's national team at the 2011 FIBA Africa Championship (AfroBasket).

The big man averaged a double-double of 20 points and 16.8 rebounds per game in his 19 games in the Philippines to help San Mig lift the title.

Mays also gained experience in the NBA D-League, where he started his professional career with the Texas Legends and in the years that followed he also had spells at the Grand Rapids Drive, the Maine Red Claws and the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

The Central African Republic international also had a three-year stint in Puerto Rico, where he suited up for Caciques de Humacao and for Capitanes de Arecibo, while he has also played his trade in China.

Brindisi hope that in Mays they have secured the services of an athletic, versatile big man player who is capable to post-up and play with his back to the basket but can also help to stretch the floor and take shots from long distance if need be.

One of the players that Mays will go up against in the EuroChallenge regular season, is Maarten (Maarty) Leunen, who agreed terms this week with ratiopharm Ulm.

Leunen, who had an outstanding five-year stay at storied club Pallacanestro Cantú, first caught the eye of the German team when he dropped 20 points on 6-for-9 three-point shooting, in Ulm's meeting with the Italian side in the Eurocup last season.

The American power forward, who turns 29 in September, was in 10th place in 2-point shooting percentage in the Last 32 of the Eurocup, as he converted close to 75% of his shots from close range in that stage of the competition.

"Maarty will make our entire defence better," said Ulm manager Dr. Thomas Stoll.

"Plus, he has Dutch roots, so he has partially orange blood flowing through his veins," Stoll added jokingly, in reference to Ulm's predominant club colour.

In addition to his performances in the Eurocup and the Italian Serie A, Ulm head coach Thorsten Leibenath also scouted Leunen in the NBA Summer League earlier in July.

"Leunen has an incredible game intelligence, is an excellent passer and team defender," a delighted Leibenath commented on the new arrival.

"He is a leader and a winner."

In his last season with Cantú, Leunen averaged 7.2, 5.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game in the Eurocup and 9.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists in the Serie A.

Ulm consider Leunen the last addition to their roster for next season and will most probably not make any further signings in the summer transfer window.

The German club had earlier this month penned deals with another important big man, former Montenegrin international Boris Savovic who joined from Bayern Munich as well as Slovenian international guard Jaka Klobucar, who arrived from Krka Novo Mesto.

The roster of the German EuroChallenge side now consists of Per Günther, Tommy Mason Griffin, Sören Fritze, David Krämer, CJ Harris, Philipp Schwethelm, Jaka Klobucar, Will Clyburn, Adam Hess, Joschka Ferner, Isaiah Philmore, Boris Savovic, Maarten Leunen and Jonathan Maier.


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