Imports are always a fun part of an Asian Basketball League. Leagues need a strong foundation of local players, but it’s the imports that bring a sense “star power” to the leagues.
This is Part Three of the TBL Imports Preview.
So let’s talk about Imports. As mentioned in the TBL introduction preview earlier, there will be both World and ASEAN Imports. In total, this means that we could potentially see as many as 21 imports in total.
This will be a four-part write up featuring the imports of the TBL and I’ll try to follow the chronological order of when the news surfaced. Here are parts 1-4:
I’ll be naming the import first, before finishing his section by announcing where he will be playing. Just to make things…fun.
Let us continue:
No, you Filipino basketball fans, this is not the Chris “Air Force” Ellis of Barangay Ginebra. This is another Christian Ellis. If some of you recall, this is the Christian Ellis that played for the Indonesia Warriors for 5 games in the ABL two seasons ago.
Most interestingly might be the fact that Christian Ellis is the son of 19-year NBA veteran, Dale Ellis. Papa Dale might have been known for his 4 years of 20+ ppg as a Seattle Sonic which featured one All-Star season.
Back to Christian (yes, he prefers to be refered to fully as Christian) Ellis, the burly power forward has had quite an illustrious professional basketball career.
After graduating from Wake Forest in 2006 (playing alongside the likes of NBA Stars Chris Paul and Josh Howard), Ellis spent two years around the NBA Summer Leagues and D-League. After that, he’s played in Uruguay, Ukraine, Romania, China, Germany, Austria, and (as mentioned) Indonesia.
Finally, Ellis’ journey brings him to Bangkok, Thailand at the ripe age of 32.
ABL 2014, Indonesia Warriors: 17.0 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 2.6 BPG, 56.5 3p%, 60.5 eFG%
NCAA D1 2005-2006, Wake Forest: 5.6 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.1 BPG, 41.7 3p%
Taking his talents to…
(Honestly just too lazy to do the photoshop work for this one)
OSK signs Christian Ellis to bring some balance in to the team. Scharer and Kreft (the other two imports on the team) are more explosive and expressive players. Ellis is a bit more smooth in his style of play and will also bring a different offensive skill set to the court when he and Kreft switch each other out. While Kreft will focus his game down low, Ellis can drift out further away from the basket to open spacing options for his team mates.
Ellis is a bit more seasoned that Kreft and Scharer, so he can also be a valuable veteran presence on this new OSK R Airlines team.
I have to admit that in a league where both imports are allowed on the floor at the same time (hello, ABL?) this Kreft/Ellis pairing does look pretty good on paper.
What I wish to see
It just has to be pointed out that it was Justin Howard who replaced Christian Ellis for the Indonesia Warriors. I’m not saying that Ellis should have some sort of chip on his shoulder that he might want to prove in OSK’s game against Hitech…but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did have that slightly on his mind.
(I’m totally wishing that he has a slight grudge just so we can get a juicy Scharer vs. Goldstein and Ellis vs. Howard matchup.)
It’s not every day that you get a former Rivals 5 Star recruit to play in Thailand. Yet here we are. You can read the full story of Keala King here, but in case you are too lazy, I summarize it a bit.
Back in 2010, high school senior King was ranked above current NBA players like Kendall Marshall and Shabazz Napier. Despite graduating with a 3.5 GPA and getting interest from Cal-Berkeley, Stanford, and Harvard, King took a liking to Arizona State University where the program sold him the idea of coming in to fill the void of James Harden (yes, that James Harden) who would be leaving the school for the NBA that year.
King was set to be the shooting guard of the team, but depth issues at the point guard position forced the coach to push King into the point guard position. For a freshmen who has never played the position to jump directly into the fire in one of the most complex positions to play, the transition was rough. King struggled. While he improved vastly in his second season at Arizona State, off-court issues forced him to transfer to Long Beach State. King had another decent season at Long Beach State, but was once again forced to transfer. This time he chose to play closer to home in an NAIA program, Pikeville. He garnered second team NAIA All-American to cap off a successful senior year.
Despite his play, King wasn’t able to be drafted in the NBA D-League so he went back to play in the notorious Drew League. His performances in the DLeague was enough to get him a spot in Spain’s Primera Division de Baloncesto league, playing for a team named Agustinos Eras.
Now that the Spanish season has ended, King has found his way to Thailand, following a familiar friend.
Primera Division de Baloncesto 2015, Agustinos Eras: 9.5 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 3.0 APG
NAIA 2013-2014, Pikeville: 16 PPG, 53 FG%
NCAA Division 1 2012-2013, Long Beach State: 9.7 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2.9 APG
NCAA Division 1 2011-2012, Arizona State: 13.7 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.3 APG
NCAA Division 1 2010-2011, Arizona State: 3.7 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 1.2 APG
TAKING HIS TALENTS TO…
It just so happens that Keala King is very good friends with Hitech’s Tyler Lamb. Both went to the same high school at Mater Dei and they have sustained their friendship throughout all these years. Both King and Lamb played at Long Beach State, although their playing seasons never overlapped.
King will be a unique World Import in the TBL, as most teams go for bigger more interior oriented players. King could play as a small power forward, but ideally he’s a perimeter player.
King seems to fit the mold of an all-around forward who is able to rebound the ball, bring the ball up the court to either finish or dish off to another player all by himself. In his collegiate years, King is a pretty high usage player (24.0% Usage Rate) so Hitech might need to figure out how to balance the ball distribution among King and their two other high usage wins Freddie Goldstein and Tyler Lamb.
However, it should be a well accepted dilemma with the level of pure talent that King brings to the table.
WHAT I WISH TO SEE
The chemistry between King and Lamb should be off the charts and I hope we get to see a beautiful highlight of some sort with both involved this season.
Cambodia isn’t considered a basketball hotbed. They only participate in ASEAN Basketball tournaments here and there. But make no mistake, they are trying to get up there.
Dominic Dar is a Cambodian basketball player who grew up in the United States. Hailing from Massachusetts, Dominic or “Dom”, starred in high school for Greater Lowell Tech before playing collegiately at Northern Essex Community College.
Dar splashed into the ASEAN Basketball scene in 2013 which was the first time he represented his country in the SEA Games. While Cambodia didn’t make much noise (winning only one game against hosts Myanmar, Dar made a ripple by leading the tournament in scoring. Thailand fans and players might not clearly remember that time that they beat Cambodia 80-67 that year, but some might remember the small dude that torched them for 41 points in that game.
While his second go round in the SEA Games wasn’t quite as successful (44 points in 5 games), he still showed that he has the potential to be a scorer.
He brings his talents to Thailand this time as an ASEAN Import.
(Fun note, this isn’t the first time a Cambodian basketball player has played in a league outside the country. The Saigon Heat briefly signed Sopheen Toun to play as an ASEAN Import in their debut season in 2012. #TheMoreYouKnow)
SEA Games 2015, Cambodia: 8.8 PPG, 2.2 APG, 4.2 FTA/G, 24.6 eFG%
SEA Games 2013, Cambodia: 19.5 PPG
NJCCA Career, Northern Essex Community College: 13.9 PPg, 42.1 3P%, 3.3 APG
TAKING HIS TALENTS TO…
The Madgoats are back in the TBL and they sure are making a splash with signing an ASEAN Import that isn’t Filipino. For the record, they will be the only team that has an ASEAN Import quota to have an import that isn’t Filipino. Fun stuff.
It’s tough to say how Dar’s game would fit with the Madgoats since this is a pretty new team. A large part of the Madgoats are the core from last year’s PEA squad, so it might be nice to have another scorer added next to that solid core.
Dar brings an American style game to the Madgoats which at the least will make the team entertaining.
WHAT I WISH TO SEE
Dar posted a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money for his plane ticket in order to be able to come play in the SEA Games 2015 while he was going through all the difficulties of paying bills as an adult. As someone who is currently going through somewhat similar problems, I just want to see Dar succeed in this league to expand the borders of basketball in the ASEAN Region.
Go get ’em, Dom.