The Eagles see the return of young stars Aaron Neilsen, Jamie Glen and Will Spragg for the 2009-10 season as the club continue to drive forward with its youth development policy.
The three young players; Aaron 19, from Newcastle, Will 19, from Gateshead and Jamie 19 from Bolton and a product of the Manchester junior programme, all picked up valuable playing time across the 2008-9 season with the Eagles. They also played with Eagles nursery side Team Northumbria in EBL Division II, helping the University side reach Division II Play-Off Final success.
Eagles managing Director Paul Blake explained; ‘Aaron and Will are both examples of what can be achieved by developing local talent and have now been in the Eagles senior squad training programme for 5 years. Jamie came to the club last season and has really impressed on and off the court. We look forward to seeing his development continue.’
‘All three players look up to both Andrew Bridge and Darius Defoe as examples of what can be achieved with the right work ethic. Darius came to us at 18 and six years later is a solid starter for the club.’
‘With so many young talented players coming through our developemnt programme we are adopting a new policy of ‘Local Talent First’. Our National League Under 18s side coached by Marc Steutel have been promoted to the Northern Premier League this season and have some real talent. We believe that the correct route for the club is to move identified talent from the junior training groups at an earlier age into the senior training squad. Marc will be joining Bill Spragg on the Eagles team bench this season as Eagles Assistant Coach. His current role is Academy Coach at Tyne Met College, which has now become the signposted educational outlet for talented 16-18 year old Eagles players. From 18 years of age we are encouraging the move up to our partner club Northumbria University.’
We also have a strong core of players in the Northumbria training squad – 6 of whom are attending Eagles and Team Northumbria sessions; players like Welsh International Chris Pearce, Liam O’Mahoney and ex Worthing player Ian Berry. Inevitably there are more talented players coming through than spots available, however we want to make sure we are giving opportunities to play at all levels, whether it be with the senior team, Team Northumbria in National League Division II, Tyne Met College Trojans in National League Division III, or into Junior National Leagues, which now start for us at Under 13s from this season.’
‘We already have the next group of talented athletes on the radar. Young players like Ross Wilson (16), Hamish Crackett (15), Richie Summerbell (17), Connor Cole (15) and new recruit to Tyne Met College Lamar Morrison (16) – all of whom have represented England in recent seasons.’
‘I now believe that we have the most comprehensive development model for young players in the country, with a clear pathway from 10 years of age to the BBL side. Our focus is to keep young talent in the country with a focus on improving British Basketball and we will not move away from this goal. We are pushing hard to achieve the ambition of a British Eagles team that can compete at European level. It will not happen overnight but is achievable with the right structure.’
The club also announce the departure of two players from last season’s roster; Sam Attah and Brian McCotter.
Blake said; ‘ Sam came into the Eagles roster last season at 24 years of age for his first full year, and has taken the decesion to move on. Both Fab and I would like to wish him the best.’
‘Brian McCotter has had a great three seasons with the club since moving to the area from Scotland. He has taken the decision to step down due to work commitments clashing with the club’s new morning training programme and again we would like to wish Brian the best. We will no doubt see him around the club on a regular basis.’
The Eagles new season starts in earnest on Friday 25th September at home to Cheshire Jets. Tickets are now available on the Eagles website at www.newcastle-eagles.com.