It's all about the team for Seahawks' new import

AMERICAN import Sai’Quon Stone has promised to bring a winning attitude and defensive edge to the Warrnambool Seahawks this season.

Stone, 26, suited up for the Big V combination for the first time at the weekend, playing in two practice matches against Pakenham Warriors at the Arc just days after arriving in Australia.

The New York native played NCAA division one basketball at the University of Southern Mississippi and will bring a wealth of experience to the Seahawks’ young roster.

“I have always dreamt about this and for coach Bobby and the Seahawks’ organisation to give me my first opportunity I am so excited.

Stone, who grew up in Brooklyn, said he was grateful for the opportunity to play basketball professionally and was eager to repay coach Bobby Cunningham’s faith in him. 

“I just promised him that I’d work hard each and every day once I got out here,” he said.

“I think I will be able to bring a winning attitude, even when we’re shooting bad just to be able to fight through all adversity and win.

“My stats aren’t really going to show every game how much I bring to the game but I just want to bring an attitude, a toughness, a fight that every time we come out that we’re not going to give up.

“I feel like I am a play-maker. I feel that I have a good feel for the team, that we have some great shooters, some great finishers and great leadership at the point guard role, so I think we have a great situation this year.”

Stone said he placed a strong emphasis on defence.

“I do pride myself on defence and rebounding,” he said. 

“When I get in better shape I will be able to display that a lot more.

“I feel that to win championships you have to be able to defend and rebound and with the team we have we will be able to do that.

“We have some great scorers, we have great slashers and we all have to bring that together and defend and rebound and we should surprise a lot of teams this year,” he said.

“I am going to play point, a back-up point, shooting guard, small forward. 

“I will basically play anything just to help this team win.”

Stone said his time at the University of Southern Mississippi set him up for an opportunity to play basketball overseas.

“I played all four years. I made first team All-Freshman out there and I ended up breaking my foot out there as well, recovered, changed my role and ended up being first team All-Defensive team two times in a row out there,” he said.

“I ended up taking a year off because I wanted to graduate for my mother.

“That’s why I didn’t come out to play ball right away.

“I promised my mother I would graduate college and she is a big influence on my life so I wanted to give her that promise and make sure I had that paper, so that if basketball doesn’t work out I will always have that to fall back on.”

Stone, who completed a minor degree in coaching as part of his studies, said he already felt part of the Seahawks’ program.

He will now focus on training and preparing himself for Warrnambool’s season-opener against Craigieburn on March 15.

The 198-centimetre recruit has trained regularly with Seahawks’ rising stars James Mitchell and Josh Dean since he arrived in the south-west last Wednesday.

“I have been wanting to play pro-basketball since I was 16 years old,” Stone said.

“I have always dreamt about this and for coach Bobby and the Seahawks’ organisation to give me my first opportunity I am so excited.

“I am going to do whatever it takes to help this program and help this whole Warrnambool situation.

“When I think about it I get goose bumps because it’s my first time ever and I’ve been wanting to do this since I was a little kid and I am very excited to be out here.”

Stone admitted he was nervous about moving to Australia, unsure of what to expect from a different culture and being away from home.

“It was all the feelings you could have in one,” he said.

“I was nervous, excited, anxious, scared, everything.

“I didn’t want to come in and just try and ball guard my way through the team. I wanted to fit in right away.

“I was hoping the team would accept me. I was hoping the city would accept me.

“All the feelings you could have for the unknown, that’s what it was.

“But after the first day, after the first practice and after the first game I feel so much better and so comfortable because these guys embraced me. This town embraced me and the staff embraced me.

“My goal is definitely to be here for a while. I love it out here already.

“I love the team, I love the staff, I love the arena, I love the crowd. Hopefully I can get another contract once this six months is up.”

justine.mc@fairfaxmedia.com.au

Sai'Quon Stone NCAA highlights

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