Rickey McGill’s hotly anticipated return to British basketball will help Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles double down on the franchise’s identity as defensive disruptors.

That’s the verdict of an excited Marc Steutel after the Eagles playcaller confirmed Plymouth’s former playmaker is Tyneside-bound.

McGill is lighting up New Zealand’s National Basketball League (NBL) after leading the Franklin Bulls to a fourth-placed finish and this season’s playoffs.

And after an injury-hit 2022, the US star has successfully kickstarted a career that’s already taken him to Greece, Estonia and Hungary.

McGill brings his BBL experience to Newcastle’s 2023-24 roster after a season at Plymouth alongside his now Eagles teammate Will Neighbour.

“If you look at Rickey’s regular season stats in New Zealand, he led the league in steals and I think that shows a little bit about how dynamic he is,” said Steutel.

“He’s an explosive guard who’s able to get to his spots.

“Rickey can playmake, create shots, finish and make the right decisions whether he’s playing on or off the ball.

“Defensively he’s somebody who’s really disruptive and someone who puts aggressive pressure on the ball.

“In that respect Rickey is a player who will continue to help build our identity as a team and ensure that we’re playing the brand of Eagles’ basketball that I want to play.”

McGill heads into the New Zealand top-flight’s post-season first in steals and fifth in assists.

At Division One Iona, McGill became the first player in MACC conference history to appear in the NCAA tournament four seasons on the bounce.

That record secured a rookie professional contract with Athens-based Panionios where the 6ft 2in star averaged seven points and three assists per game prior to the Greek top flight’s 2020 Covid shutdown.

Months later McGill burst onto the British scene with Plymouth before stints with Rapla KK (Estonia) and Soprini KC (Hungary) reinforced his reputation as one of European basketball’s rising stars.

A serious injury in January 2022 led to an enforced spell on the sidelines but the 26-year-old has rediscovered his fitness and form under US coach Daniel Sokolovsky at the Bulls.

“I’m delighted with how the roster’s shaping up this summer,” added Steutel.

“Rickey’s another impressive addition who’s proven in the British Basketball League and proven in Europe.

“He’s somebody who has really high talent and the ability to change a game and to change the outcome of a game.

“Everyone at Newcastle is delighted that he’ll be suiting up for the Eagles this season.”

The American guard played in the BBL’s behind-closed-doors season taking Plymouth to the May Madness Play-Offs Semi-Finals.

McGill joined Franklin in March and heads into the post-season first in steals (2.5 per game) and fifth in assists (5.2 per game).

The NBL wraps next month with Steutel’s latest signing due on Tyneside in time for Newcastle’s pre-season programme.

McGill joins Larry Austin Jr in a new-look Eagles’ backcourt and becomes the franchise’s sixth signing of the summer.

Fixtures for the forthcoming British Basketball League tip-offs are expected to land in the next couple of weeks and season tickets for the new campaign are still available from the box office.