BBL new boys, Durham Wildcats have signed Houston Baptist pair Mario Flaherty and Fred Hinnenkamp for their debut season.
Flaherty, a highly-rated 6ft 9in American forward flew into the North East over the weekend and will make his debut against Newcastle Eagles on Saturday. Flaherty joins Durham following a stint playing professional basketball in New Zealand earlier this year.
And the two-year starter at Houston Baptist University has already impressed head coach Dave Elderkin and his Wildcats team-mates.
“We have been working behind the scenes to get Mario over here for the best part of eight weeks but sometimes these things take time,” said head coach Dave Elderkin. “His experience playing professionally in New Zealand will have done him a lot of good and I am sure that he will bring something a bit different with him.”
Hinnenkamp, another American forward joins former team-mate Flaherty as Durham’s final pre-season signing.
It was the duo’s explosive inside partnership for the Huskies’ college side which persuaded Elderkin to ink a deal with Hinnenkamp. And the former Sunderland and Newcastle playcaller is now confident he has a roster capable of competing at the highest level of British hoops.
“Signing Fred signals the end of our overseas recruitment,” revealed Elderkin. “We have a rounded squad now – we have more experience than people think and Fred will bring a lot to the team.
“He’s played at a high level and has already shown some nice touches. The fact that he has played a couple of seasons with Mario Flaherty back in the States will be helpful to them both and I think Fred will be an asset for us.”
Hinnenkamp’s college stats made the versatile big man a hot property on the European market this summer. But the lure of a British degree course at Durham University persuaded Hinnenkamp to pick the Wildcats.
“Ultimately the opportunity to play in the elite league in Britain – at the same time as getting a world class education – was too good an opportunity to turn down,” he said. “It is going to be a year that I am going to remember and one that I want to be truly special.”