AMERICAN import Xavier Johnson-Blount is expected to be Warrnambool Seahawks’ oncourt leader after re-signing for a third season on Australian soil.
The 2016 Big V championship player and 2017 All-Star will play a major role under new coach Tim Gainey when the season tips off in March.
Gainey is rapt Johnson-Blount, who will fly into Victoria on February 25, will suit up for the finals aspirant.
“He’ll have a big role leading the team to success,” he said.
“He is always in shape. It will be about putting plays in for him (when he arrives).
“He is going to need to do what imports need to do. We’ll rely heavily on him. He’ll play the point, he’ll play everywhere.
“He is going to have to be a leader from the ground up, help lead the youngers guys through and do a lot of off-court stuff which he is fantastic at.”
Gainey said Johnson-Blount’s positive influence extended beyond the court and was a key reason the Seahawks sought him out for a third campaign.
The playing mentor said he worked well with his teammates and juniors coming through the domestic program.
“They love him, he gets along with everyone,” Gainey said.
“He seems to fit in well. He knows the town and is happy to get out and about.
“He texts the guys and hangs out. He is like a big bro for all the younger ones.”
Gainey is confident Warrnambool can again be a finals force after backing up its breakthrough 2016 title with a preliminary final berth last season.
“Training was good the other day and once ‘X’ is back and a few older boys I think the intensity will be higher,” he said.
“We’ve still got Ollie Bidmade, Alex Gynes and James Mitchell as mature heads out there. I reckon Ollie is going to be a huge star if he keeps playing. He’s 19, had a gap year last year and it’s his first year of uni at Warrnambool this year and that helps us.”
The Big V season will start on March 17 with the draw yet to be confirmed.