Former Oakland workhorse Will Hudson joins defending NBL champions
Hudson has signed a one-year deal with the New Zealand Breakers, the two-time defending league champions. But while Hudson and the Grizz Gang are rightfully excited, the move is seen as a bit underwhelming Down Under.
A Madison, Wisc., native, Hudson helped Oakland to consecutive 17-1 seasons and conference tournament titles before joining the Gold Coast Blaze, where he averaged 9.5 points and 6 rebounds per game last season. He continued to be a force near the basket, gobbling up offensive rebounds (third in NBL with 3.4) and putbacks, as he did for Oakland coach Greg Kampe.
Like Benson, Hudson was affected by last season's NBA lockout, which wiped out the Summer League. Hudson now replaces fellow American Gary Wilkinson, who left the team to play in Estonia. Wilkinson was a big part of the Breakers' back-to-back titles, according to Stuff in New Zealand. Wilkinson reportedly split for Europe for a more lucrative offer, one, according to Stuff, the Breakers could not match.
"They have swapped one of the league's most dominant imports, all-NBL second teamer Gary Wilkinson, for what appear to be the journeyman talents of ex-Gold Coast Blaze big man Will Hudson," wrote Stuff's Marc Hinton.
"As import signings go, this one, confirmed by the club yesterday, is about as underwhelming as it gets."
But Breakers general manager Richard Clarke seems to know what he's getting in Hudson.
"We're not trying to find someone to do the same things as Gary," Clarke told Stuff.
"His job is to help us be good, and we needed a player who understood that.
"He's got good size, and is athletic enough to guard guys on the perimeter. He's going to help give us a whole lot of different looks."
Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis was also encouraged by Hudson's signing:
"Our staff has always been very impressed with his work ethic, his rebounding and his activity at the defensive end," Stuff reports. "He plays as part of the group and is willing to do the things that help his team mates to be better."
Sounds like the same Hudson Oakland fans grew to love and, with any luck, he'll win over the fans in New Zealand.