The Bulls have made a big play in their final Import signing for their inaugural Sal’s NBL Season, by signing forward and current NBA G league player, Wayne Blackshear.
Wayne Blackshear is an exciting addition to the Bulls and guy who’s reputation is being an explosive, athletic, team first guy with the talent stretch the floor and go straight to the rim and finish. He’s by far going to be one of the most exciting guys to watch this Sal’s NBL season.
Blackshear is currently playing for the Boston Celtics’ affiliate G League team the Maine Redclaws’ a team who are sitting second their conference.
Blackshear was part of Rick Pitino's Louisville NCAA championship team (2013) and was McDonald's All Amercian in 2011. After going undrafted in the 2015 NBA draft, Blackshear joined the San Antonio Spurs for the 2015 NBA Summer League. Blackshear then signed with Giorgio Tesi Pistoia of the Italian first division and more recently signed with the Helsinki Seagulls of the Finnish league, before heading home to the states to begin his run back to the NBA.
The opportunity to come to New Zealand in the NBA off season and work with head Coach Liam Simmons was incredibly appealing to the 6’5 forward and Coach Simmons knows Wayne will be influential this season.
"Wayne has a chance to be a great player for our team this season and we are excited to have him join us. Wayne played for Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino at the University of Louisville and brings a grit and toughness that comes from playing under coach Pitino.
At 6-5 Wayne can play anywhere on the floor and is a gifted scorer and elite defender. His G-league and international experience will be of high value to our team this season. I am excited about Wayne as a basketball player but more excited about who he is as a person and how he will impact our local community and culture." Says, Coach Simmons.
General Manager, Jamie Reddish believes signing Blackshear will take the team to yet another level. “What sold us about Wayne was his commitment to the goal of the team this season. He’s had a long career through college and through his playing time in Europe and much of that experience was positive for the clubs. He’s a great fit for our community and I know he wants to make a massive statement before he heads back to the US.”
Wayne is expected to arrive in New Zealand in April at the completion of the NBA G League playoffs.
The Franklin Bulls have made yet another move to sign the high flying import and former Manawatu Jet, Wally Ellenson.
Wally is the second ever import signing for the Bulls, in a year that continues to be full of firsts!
Wally, last NBL season with the jets, saw him average a stunning 22.5 pts, 6.9 Rebounds, 2.1 Assists and 1.1 blocks per game with a highlight being a 42 point game against the Rangers.
Coach Liam Simmons has gone with some more league experience in Ellenson and someone who has the desire to up the pace!
"Wally Ellenson is a tremendous young man with high character - he comes from a basketball family and has an infectious passion for the game.
Wally showed last season just how explosive he can be as an athlete and scorer in the Sal's NBL, which should have every basketball fan excited he coming back, especially our Bulls fans. I am excited to work with him and have him in the yellow and black - he is a great fit. Says Coach Simmons.
Wally last played in the Liga A in Argentina. Previous to that with the manawatu Jets and with the NBA G League affiliate in Oklahoma.
Wally is also known for his high jumping ability having jumped a stunning 7 feet, 5 3/4 in college, which is around the NZ record of 2.30m.
"We are excited at what Wally brings to the team. Not only is he a great athlete who plays above the rim and shoots the 3 at a reasonable rate, he's a great guy! We are looking forward to his explosiveness. He's great to watch, especially live!" Jamie Reddish, General Manager
Wally will join the squad in March. Welcome to the team Wally!
The Franklin Bulls have made another key signing ahead of their first season in the Sal’s NBL.
Guard/Small Forward, Grant Dressler is the first import signing for the Franklin Bulls and according to General Manager Jamie Reddish, is an exciting addition to the team and adds more length at the guard spot.
Dressler, is new to the professional game and is committing to coming to New Zealand early to work with Coach Simmons ahead of the physical Sal’s NBL.
Even though he’s a rookie, his accolades in the college game boast the potential to light up any Sal’s NBL round. Last year he was D2 National All Star, All-district west first team, 1st team all league and made the most 3 point field goals in Chaminade University History. Grant was also on the 2018-19 watch list for the Bevo Francis Award and made the “Honourable mention team” in the Pac West in 2018.
“Grant is a guy that has been competing at D1 and D2 level for the past few years and it’s now time for him to play pro ball. We’re excited to have him!” Jamie Reddish GM, Franklin Bulls Basketball
Coach Liam Simmons has been actively recruiting Grant to bring to New Zealand for the season.
"Grant is an exciting player to add to our team. He comes from a winning program at Chaminade University competing is a tough PAC West conference. At 6-7 he will bring size and versatility to our team and stretch the floor with his elite shooting ability. Grant will be a fantastic addition to the Bulls organization. I am excited to add him to the group and get to work."
Dressler has most recently be training in the G league with LA Clippers affiliate, Agua Caliente Clippers in California.
Grant continues the list of players who can shoot the three ball at an above average rate (.441). Grant is also an outstanding distributor, with strong assist numbers, last year averaging 4.26 assists, rebounding 5.77 along with 19 points in 32 minutes per game.
The Franklin Bulls, Officially Welcome, Grant Dressler!
The Franklin Bulls team started the Sal’s NBL journey with one big question, unanswered. "Where will we play?".
We have been proud and immensely humbled by the support shown from those in charge of many of our Auckland venues, but as Auckland is very much starved for court space and time, we have been unable to secure any one solid venue, with the only option playing one off games at multiple venues. We have understood this as the single significant problem to plague our team.
The Bulls Board with feedback from our supporters and sponsors has made it clear that we only have one option and that is to remain based in Franklin, in our largest city of Pukekohe. This means being based locally, based in the heart of our community and easily accessible to the Bulls fan base.
That is why, we would like to announce, that with a significant commitment from our partners and the venue operators, we will playing at the New Bulls Home venue, the Franklin Pool and Leisure Centre.
While the Auckland council is unable to upgrade the facility in time for our first season, the Bulls management team in partnership with members of our community and the facility manager, Belgravia Leisure, have been able to secure the funds and resources to ensure that this venue can host our first season in the Sal’s NBL and beyond. In our first season, due to the upgrades required, we will only be able to host a maximum of 1100 people in the arena, but this will grow over time to around 1500 -1600.
“We believe this is a great start for our team and the fact we are able to stay in Franklin and ensure the Bulls play in Franklin is what we hoped and planned for our team when we originally put in our bid.” Jamie Reddish, GM Bulls Basketball
“We will need the help of our community to ensure we can deliver the best possible product. We believe that the council will provide the upgrades needed to help us expand the venue from 2021 and beyond, but for now we are excited to be able to host the Sal’s NBL here in Franklin.”
The plan is to bring in a portable flooring system and portable stands to be able to host the Sal’s NBL and provide a chance for the Franklin community to see the best basketball New Zealand has to offer for the first time in the regions history.
The Bulls website has been updated to include registrations for volunteers to get alongside the team for the 2020 season in various roles to assist in ensuring the Bulls have the best platform to bring home a Sal’s NBL Championship!
The Bulls management would like to thank everyone involved in making the decision to stay in Franklin possible. This includes both fans and supporters, sponsors, facility management and the Sal’s NBL partners.
It wouldn’t be a New Year with out an announcement to usher in 2020! We would like to welcome 6.7 guard, Luke Aston to the Franklin Bulls squad for 2020.
Last year Luke played for the Canterbury Rams and has been an influential and consistent force throughout his career, earning a Tall Blacks call up in 2017 and competing at a high level throughout the Sal’s NBL, including a championship win with the Southland Sharks in 2018.
“What a fantastic addition to our team and organization. Luke has a track record of winning and that experience and winning mentality will be invaluable to the Bulls. Luke is one of those guys that when he shoots, you just expect it to go in, shooting is his basketball superpower. At 6-7 Luke brings length and versatility to our group which I love. Luke embodies everything our team and organization are about, Character, Commitment, Culture and Community.” Bulls Head Coach Liam Simmons.
We are proud to call Luke a Bull and we look forward to his leadership and experience to help bring a title to Franklin in our first season.
The Franklin Bulls are proud to announce our first ever player signing. This is a historic day for the team, the franchise and our community.
We would like to officially welcome home to South Auckland and to the Franklin Bulls, 6 time Sal’s NBL champion, Leon Henry.
Leon is the first ever official signing for the Bulls, who were a late entry into the Sal’s NBL 2020 competition.
“We couldn’t have started our team, without bringing a few of our local boys home. Leon has had an outstanding career and we look forward to having his knowledge, skill and experience as part of our inaugural season in the league”. Jamie Reddish, Bulls General Manager.
“We know he’s already been in conversations with new Head Coach, Liam Simmons. I know Liam is excited to have a person with Leon’s considerable experience to help lead the team and create a great team culture.”
New Head Coach Liam Simmons, said he's very excited to sign Leon to the club.
"I can’t think of a more appropriate and deserving individual than Leon to be our first ever signing. Growing up here in South Auckland it means a lot to Leon to play in front of his friends and family and represent his community. Basketball has taken Leon all over NZ and the world and everywhere he has played he has established himself as champion and a leader and that caliber of player is exactly what our team needs right away. He brings 3 ANBL Championships 6 NZNBL Championships a NZNBL finals MVP and most importantly Leon wants to be here at Franklin and impact our community - he could play anywhere in the league and he chose Franklin and those are the sort of guys I want to be around and coach. We couldn’t be more excited."
Leon was part of the 2019 championship winning Saints, who successfully completed an undefeated season and eventually winning the final against the Hawks.
HEAD COACH ANNOUNCEMENT
Over the past few weeks the Bulls management have undergone a process of advertising and interviewing for the head coaching role to take the Bulls into our 2020 Inaugural NZNBL season. The search is now over.
The team had more than 40 applications for the role and one candidate emerged and has now ofﬁcially signed on as the 2020 Head Coach.
Australian born coach, Liam Simmons is now the man tasked with leading the Bulls in our ﬁrst season.
“When we interviewed Liam it was clear that our goals lined up. As a team we want to be seen to always be pushing the envelope, growing our player base and building for the long term. Liam is 100% on board with not only the development of the Bulls and helping us put a playoff and championship team together, but he is also passionate about developing our Franklin players. He’s worked along-side some of the biggest names in basketball and has the backing of some of the best in the business. And while this will be Liam’s ﬁrst ofﬁcial "professional team" head coaching role, he has the experience to get the most out of our players and help them achieve their personal goals as players.“ Jamie Reddish, General Manager of the Bulls.
“We are excited to welcome Liam and his family back down-under to grow a long term relationship with basketball in Franklin. These are exciting times for basketball in the Auckland region."
Liam has already begun the recruitment process and the Bulls will be announcing players starting this week.
BULLS HEAD COACH LIAM SIMMONS - BIO
Liam comes to the Franklin Bulls with wealth of knowledge and a ton of passion. Known for being a high-energy competitor, Simmons brings a community minded leadership style that is anchored in – family, faith and developing a strong culture of success. Simmons prides himself on being a coach who builds genuine relationships with his players and cares about their personal development and success both on and off the court. Simmons comes from a basketball family with his father playing in the (Australian) NBL for 15 years, and his youngest brother competing in the NBA. Liam has forged his own path as a coach over the last 14 years. He has spent the majority of his career coaching at the collegiate level in the USA, building a reputation as a tireless worker and skilled recruiter within the NCAA college coaching community.
This past season Liam stepped away from the college basketball world to focus his effort and energy specifically on enhancing the skills of individual players. As an NBA skill development coach, he has worked with several NBA players, including high proﬁle Australian players Ben Simmons and Dante Exum. Liam based himself in Philadelphia and worked parallel with the Philadelphia 76ers staff last season, supporting their coaches in the development of Ben Simmons. While Ben Simmons was instrumental in his team’s success throughout the season and playoffs, his tireless hard work with Liam was rewarded when he received the individual honour of his ﬁrst NBA All Star selection and a maximum contract offer from the Philadelphia 76ers.
Prior to working as an NBA skill development coach, Liam has built his coaching career within the collegiate basketball world within the USA. His most recent stop was at the University of California Riverside as an assistant coach, under Australian Head Coach David Patrick. While with the Riverside Highlanders, Liam played a key role in signing NZ born Callum McRae to the program. During his 8 years as a collegiate coach, Liam has worked at Southwest Baptist University, where he held the title of Associate Head Coach and recruited current NZ Breakers star Finn Delany. Liam has also made stops at Nicholls State University and San Diego Christian College.
Liam’s passion for the game is infectious and he has a heart for mentorship, family and community. Liam comes to the Franklin Bulls with his wife Tiffany and their son Noah.