The Airwaves Plymouth Raiders have made a significant addition to their team for the 2009/10 season. American/Irish forward, Matt Hilleary, has signed for the Raiders having established himself a fantastic reputation while playing in the Irish Superleague.
Hilleary, a 6'8" 28 year old, athletic forward, holds both an American and an Irish passport – something that, together with his playing abilities, make him a very valuable player in the world of European basketball. BBL teams are allowed 3 foreign players, but are allowed as many Bosman A players as they like. The Irish nationality gives Hilleary the Bosman A status.
Starting out at Catholic University in the USA, Hilleary lead his team to the Division 3 National Championship in 2001, and after posting nearly 18 points and 10 rebounds in 2002, he was voted as one of the leagues premier players. Before his senior year in 2003, he was voted as Pre Season Player of the Year, and after posting similar stats, was again awarded with All American status.
After a few years out of basketball, Hilleary was watching college basketball on TV, when he decided he wanted to return to playing. "I was watching a college basketball game and I just decided, what am I doing here? I'm better than half these guys." He was put in touch with a team in Ireland, and signed for Mutang Sallys St Pauls for the 06/07 season. There, he averaged 20 points and 14 rebounds a game. He returned for the 07/08 season, and this time averaged over 24 points (4th in the league) and 14 rebounds (2nd in the league) per game, and at the same time earning himself the Eurobasket Defensive Player of the Year title.
"Im delighted to welcome Matt to the Raiders," said Raiders' Head Coach Gary Stroanch. "He has a very good all round game, and certainly will help us at the defensive end having lead the superleague in Ireland in blocked shots in his second year. Offensively he is the type of player who will quietly go about his business but end up with 20 points."
Hilleary becomes Raiders fourth signing of the summer, following Captain Allister Gall, and American players Eric Flato and Terry Horton. "I'm very excited about heading to the Raiders, and I can't wait to get settled and start playing," said Hilleary. "I'm going to work hard and help the team win a lot of games this year, and want to carry on the winning tradition in Plymouth. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to continue to play basketball in Europe and I'm really looking forward to the beginning of the season."
"Things are really starting to come together on-court," says Raiders Chief Executive Dave Briggs. "Despite the budget cuts this year, Gary's putting together what should be a very exciting team. Fans may have been a little downhearted earlier in the summer, but we're ahead of every other BBL team in terms of signing players, and the quality of the players that Gary is brining in should have the fans really looking forward to September 12th when we play our first game of the season against Team USA Select."