Craigieburn Eagles have received a huge boost with the reigning Big V division 2’s Most Valuable Player Damon Smith signing on for another two seasons.
Smith was a revelation for the Eagles this year and played a key role in their run to the minor premiership.
Smith averaged nearly 19 points and 10 rebounds a game during the year.
His efforts saw him last month awarded the league’s division 2 MVP award.
Smith, who is back at home in America, said it was a great feeling to take out the award.
“Anytime you start a season and/or finish the season you want to improve from where you were stat-wise and as a team,” he said.
“So coming in to this league I knew I had to make a good impression as well as have a successful season.
“This is the first time I’ve received an MVP award, so it’s a huge honour and I’m really blessed to have great teammates and coaching staff.
“No one can get an MVP without those two and in my eyes this is a team award.”
Smith, who has previously played overseas, said he thought the season had gone well.
He said it took a little while to adjust to the umpiring early in the season, but said having played in a number of different countries had helped make the adjustment easier.
Smith said it was disappointing to lose in the semi-finals to Mildura Heat, but the Eagles had played their hearts out.
“They just had a couple more shots fall and that’s all it takes sometimes.”
After just one season playing at Craigieburn and in Australia, Smith said it already felt like home.
While he has signed a two year deal, he said he would also like to look at the possibility of moving to Australia permanently with his partner Katie.
He said it was a relief knowing where he would be playing basketball for the next two seasons. “The thing I enjoyed most about playing here is the diversity of the players. Most guys can do more then one thing and I think that is what makes the league fun.
“The thing I enjoy most about playing with Craigieburn would be how close the organisation is.
“If there is an issue off the court, everyone is helping trying to figure it out. I’ve had parents reach out and ask me if I needed anything.
“Not that I did, but for them to reach out to extend their help when they don’t have to is what makes people like me and other imports feel like home.”
Smith said the aim for next season is to win the championship. The Eagles have won the minor premiership the past two years, before being knocked out in the finals series.
“My next step has a couple of things tied to it. First and foremost … winning a championship.
“I would say short term … I would like to continue to make my teammates better. Demand more out of them and that’s going to bring the best out.
“I want to continue to work with the youth and kids around the area. I love how much guys around the club want to work with me and get better at the game.”