The Cairns Taipans have announced that import big Nnanna Egwu will be returning to the Far North Queensland club for the 2017/18 NBL season.
Egwu proved to be a surprise package last year, making his mark on the NBL for his work inside the paint and shooting ability – leading the team in field goal percentage at 55.9.
Taipans Head Coach Aaron Fearne praised Egwu in his NBL debut, and said that he was determined to keep the 2016/17 Coaches’ Award winner around for another campaign.
“First and foremost, Nnanna is a fantastic person and team mate. He adapted to the culture here and our style of play, and brought a tremendous work ethic every day to practice and a great attitude to games,” said Fearne.
“He’ll improve a lot going forward. He’s extremely dependable and professional, and for a second year pro he’s got the maturity of a ten-year vet. It was a huge priority for us to bring him back to our program.”
The 24-year old fast became a fan favourite last season, and a regular feature of highlight reels, particularly for his effortless dunks and clutch outside shots.
He made the semi-finals in his first year down under, averaging 5.1 points and 3.6 rebounds across his 30 games as a member of one of the strongest bench lineups in the NBL.
“Obviously when Nate [Jawai] was out injured or struck foul trouble early, Nnanna was always there to keep it chugging along. We as coaching staff are excited he’s coming back and the playing group will be as well,” said Fearne.
Egwu, alongside Taipans teammate Mitch McCarron, is spending the off-season in New Zealand’s NBL, playing with the Supercity Rangers.
They currently sit fourth on the ladder with Egwu averaging 13.3 points and eight rebounds per game as their starting centre.
“Nnanna and Mitch are doing really well over there. I spoke to Dillon Boucher [General Manager of the New Zealand Breakers] at the NBL Combine recently who also plays with the Rangers, and he couldn’t say a bad thing about either of them,” said Fearne.
“It’s good to hear those kinds of comments about your players from a rival club. You know they will be respectful and honest in their evaluations, and he was very complimentary of them both as players and as people.”
Egwu and McCarron join Nate Jawai, Jarrad Weeks, Cam Gliddon, Stephen Weigh and Alex Loughton in the Taipans’ 2017/18 line-up.