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Essex Leopards announce two more signings

PUBLISHED: 11:30 31 July 2017

Jamie Hayes receiving the 2016/17 Most Improved Player award from Essex Leopards assistant coach Roger Malpass (pic Paul Phillips)

Jamie Hayes receiving the 2016/17 Most Improved Player award from Essex Leopards assistant coach Roger Malpass (pic Paul Phillips)

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Big Cats continue to prepare for new season

Thomas Baker’s rebuilding of the Levett Essex Leopards roster has continued with the return of Jamie Hayes and the addition of fellow big man Jamie Rodwell.

Six foot eight inch forward Rodwell played against Leopards for Hemel Storm and the Welsh national team last season, helping Storm overcome a slow start to reach the play-offs.

And coach Baker is delighted with his new addition, saying: “Signing Jamie is another great step along this journey we are on this off-season.

“He adds length and presence under the basket that will help us both ends of the floor and he can also play out on the perimeter too.

“Jamie is keen to continue to develop as a player and I’m excited to work with him this upcoming season. With the season getting closer and closer we will continue to make signings that allow us to achieve promotion back to Division One, and I’m pleased Jamie is a part of that.”

Rodwell is excited to be linking up with his new team, adding: “It was a difficult decision to leave Hemel but after speaking with Tom and some returning players, Leopards are the right fit for me to continue to develop as a player.

“It’s clear that everyone shares the same mind-set about this season in that it’s all about getting back into Division One and I’m excited to go out and prove that’s where we belong.”

Meanwhile Hayes, who lives in the Brentwood area, is back for a third season with the Big Cats having nailed down a starting spot in the closing stages of the 2016/17 campaign.

His performances were enough for him to win the club’s Most Improved Player award in April and Hayes is keen to help Leopards make an immediate return to NBL Division One.

He said: “After what was a very frustrating season last year with Leopards I felt I needed to return to help put things right and put us back where we belong; in Division One and winning again.

“It is my intentions to help the Big Cats to a championship season, along with winning all the respective cups and trophies on offer, getting us back in Division One in style.”

Coach Baker is pleased to bring Hayes back to the club, adding: “Bringing Jamie back was one of my main objectives. His unwavering commitment when things were tough last year and his willingness to give his all when the season wasn’t going well is credit to the type of player and person Jamie is.

“I feel his ability to play inside and outside adds to the style we want to play next season and his willingness to do whatever it takes for his team to win is exactly what I am looking for.

“In such a short space of time with me, Jamie proved that he is the kind of player I want to have around and I am looking forward to working with him again this season.”

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