Fab Flournoy has landed the services of Aussie star Steve Leven as Newcastle Eagles try to bolster their roster in anticipation of a hectic BBL Championship run-in.
Leven started the current season with Australian NBL outfit Perth Wildcats and is currently plying his trade in the Icelandic League. He agreed terms with the Eagles late last night and will fly from Iceland to Tyneside today to prepare for his new career.
But the Wyoming University graduate is unlikely to be available for tomorrow’s BBL Trophy semi-final clash with Cheshire Jets in Sheffield as the Eagles are waiting for the relevant paperwork to be completed.
‘It would be unfair to put him straight in for this weekend’s game,’ said Eagles managing director Paul Blake. ‘And because he’s an Australian we might have to sort out clearance, and that probably won’t be done in time.’
The coup brings to an end a six-month campaign to attract the services of the 6ft 6in shooting guard. After snubbing the 25-year-old at the start of the season – instead opting for Richard Midgley – the Tynesiders subsequently chose Dutch talisman Bryan Defares ahead of the youngster. But after much deliberation the Eagles have sealed the move.
‘I would say he’s got good pedigree from college,’ said Blake. ‘He put himself in for the NBA drafts but didn’t quite make it. But he was getting 15 (points) a game in his final year as a player with Wyoming, and that is clearly NBA draft standard. As a result he kind of had a nothing season last year, but he’s with us now.’
Leven was a hot prospect Stateside, where he was named in the top 50 High School talents and was considered a genuine NBA draft. But having put himself in the pool for the big US outfits, the Australian was unable to impress. And now he is set for a role in the BBL’s biggest franchise.
‘He’s been in the Australian League, and after the NBA and the Spanish League it’s possibly the best league in the world,’ added Blake. ‘He clearly has talent, and he really needs a home. So we want him to get some games under his belt and then hopefully get the best out of him.’
The appointment comes after a season of high player turnover inside the Metro Radio Arena. Great Britain star Midgley left Newcastle under a cloud of confusion to join Merseysiders Everton Tigers, while Dutch international Defares spent little more than a fortnight in the North-East before quitting Flournoy’s team.
But it is hoped the appointment of Leven as Newcastle’s latest star will steady the ship as Flournoy’s men look to close out the season with a trophy push.
Joining Leven in an Eagles vest is Team Northumbria hot-shot Sam Attah. The Durham man has been with the University team for nearly two years and is set to make the step up to the BBL. But as with Leven, the youngster is unlikely to be available to play this weekend. He will see out his obligation to play with the University team.